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Holiday Gift Guide: Travelers

28 Nov

Traveler Gift Ideas  | www.the-wild-child.com

Are you out enjoying the madness of Black Friday? I’m inside with my family watching movies and staying warm. I’d rather do a little online shopping than face the crowds. If you are out and about, here are some gift ideas for the traveler in your life:

  1. Gorgeous weekend bag for the perfect getaway, $120.
  2. Scratch map to keep track of their travels, $19.
  3. Travel journal to document their journeys, $18.
  4. The New York Times Europe guide, $32.
  5. Cute passport holder, $35.
  6. 4-in-1 adapter because you always need one, $25.
  7. Luggage scale to keep them in check, $20.
  8. Personalized luggage tag to prevent baggage claim guessing, $25.
  9. Mini steamer for a polished look anywhere, $35.
  10. Noise canceling headphones for obvious reasons, $99.

Anything you would add to the list? Happy shopping!

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Fleesensee

24 Nov

Just an hour north of Berlin is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Sebastian and I spent a night there near Fleesensee, one of the lakes in the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte district. Don’t you just love German words?

Schloss Fleesensee | www.the-wild-child.com

Castle Entrance | www.the-wild-child.com

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort – also known as Schloss Fleesenesee. Schloss means castle in German, and the Radisson is literally a nineteenth-century castle converted into a hotel. I thought it was super cool and kept trying to envision what each room used to be.

Schloss Fleesensee Radisson  | www.the-wild-child.com

Flowers   | www.the-wild-child.com

Unfortunately when we visited, the weather wasn’t cooperating and it was quite cold for May. We wanted to spend more time walking the grounds, and visiting a national park nearby. But we opted for an afternoon of lounging by the indoor pool instead. I know, spare me.

Schloss Fleesensee Grounds  | www.the-wild-child.com

Indoor Pool  | www.the-wild-child.com

We finished the evening with cocktails in one of the old parlors and a fantastic dinner in what probably used to be the grand ballroom. I would go back every single day to eat their tomato soup again, so unbelievably good.

Castle Interior  | www.the-wild-child.com

Dinner | www.the-wild-child.com

Tomato Soup  | www.the-wild-child.com

Good Food | www.the-wild-child.com

The following morning we tried to spend some time outside, walking around the lake and exploring. It was still pretty cold so we’ll definitely need to go back when it’s warmer. There are tons of little cottages along the lake, and I bet a week there in the summer would be awesome.

Schloss Fleesensee Outside  | www.the-wild-child.com

Selfie  | www.the-wild-child.com

Lakeside | www.the-wild-child.com

Fleesensee Lake  | www.the-wild-child.com

All in all, it was my kind of stay, one where I had plenty of time to read and relax. It’s always nice to get away, especially when you spend the night in a castle.

Schloss Fleesensee Germany | www.the-wild-child.com

Radisson Blu Resort Schloss Fleesensee
Schloßstrasse 1
Fleesensee DE-17213
Phone: +49 39932 80100

Biking in Berlin

22 Nov

Every time I visit Europe, I always get this urge to ride a bike. We don’t have many cities in the states where biking is convenient, but over there it feels more accessible. So on my latest trip to Germany, I talked Sebastian into renting bikes one morning.

Biking in #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Biking in #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

It couldn’t have been a more perfect day to ride around Berlin. The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and the tourists were scarce. We started with a ride through Tiergarten park and then made our way through the city. It was such a fun way to check out the sites and explore different areas. Eventually we started making our way to Tempelhofer Park.

Brandenburg Gate #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Berliner Dom #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

I adore Tempelhof, and I don’t think I’m in the minority here. It is one of the coolest places in Berlin. What was once an airport has now become a public space for cycling, kite flying and picnics. We kicked off our shoes, lounged on the grass and spent the afternoon people-watching.

Tempelhofer Park #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Biking in Tempelhof #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

No shoes #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Tempelhof Biking #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

We stopped for coffee with Sebastian’s dear friend Maik on our way home and finished the trip with ice cream at a new shop that had just opened nearby. We chatted with the owners for a few minutes, and they found it hysterical that nussbaum is called walnut in English. Who knew walnut was such a funny word?

Victory Column #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

#Berlin street corner | www.the-wild-child.com

Ice Cream Shop #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

Ice Cream #Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

It was one of those spectacular days that you want to bottle up and keep forever. Can’t wait to go back and do it again. Have you ever biked around a city? What was your experience?

Eating Italy

13 Aug

Have you ever been on a food tour? For a long time, I wasn’t entirely sold. Why would you spend money to have someone take you to restaurants when you could go on your own? I was oh so wrong.

When Sebastian and I were in Rome last fall, I was trying to find something unique to do for his birthday. I found a food tour company and decided it might be a fun gift. If anything we would eat some great food together.

The tour was way more than food. Eating Italy provided an incredible experience filled with amazing food, great wine, awesome locals and tons of history. We went on the Twilight tour in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere. The best part was visiting an area in Rome we might not have gone to otherwise. Trastevere is really lovely. It doesn’t feel like you’re in a big city, but rather a quaint Italian community. We enjoyed getting away from all the tourists and feeling like one of the locals for an evening.

Here are the stops we made along the way if you’re interested:

Da Enzo al 29
Address: Via dei Vascellari, 29

Our first stop was a small trattoria on a side street in Trastevere. We had burrata with prosciutto and melon, as well as some prosecco to kick off the tour. Sebastian and I loved this restaurant so much that we came back on our last day in Rome.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Spirito di Vino
Address: Via dei Genovesi 31 a/b

Our second stop included some fantastic red wine and appetizers. More incredible than the food was the location. We spent our time in Spirito di Vino’s wine cellar, which is actually 150 years older than the Colosseum. Fun fact: one of the statues we saw in the Vatican Museum (see below) was found buried in the cellar.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Innocenti
Address: Via della Luce 21

I love sweets so this was a perfect stop for me. The Innocenti bakery is still run by the same family who opened it in 1920, and the cookies are still made in the same oven from the 1950s.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Antica Caciara
Address: Via di San Francesco a Ripa 140

Another family-run joint, this salumeria delicatessen is well-known to the Trastevere locals. We sampled several meats and cheese and talked with the owner who started working there when he was 13.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

 –Osteria der Belli
Address: Piazza Santa Apollonia 9

I loved this restaurant situated near the center of Trastevere. It had a great patio where we sampled several dishes off the menu, including smoked swordfish, ravioli and carbonara. This was also a return spot during our trip.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

La Renella
Address: Via del Moro 15

This lively bakery was one of the coolest stops on the tour. Before we sampled some of their delicious pizza, we visited the oven room. We met Massimo (seen below) who is 82 (82!) and still baking up bread, which we learned is served in many restaurants across Rome.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Fatamorgana
Address: Via Roma Libera 11

The last stop of the tour was the best gelateria in Rome. They offer real gelato made from natural ingredients. We could sample two flavors, and I tried the honey lemon and ginger as well as the almond apple and cinnamon. Some of the flavors were very unique like rosemary and chocolate or goat cheese and coconut. We came back here again on our last night – you know, when in Rome.

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Trastevere food tour #Rome | www.the-wild-child.com

Not only was the food out of this world, but we learned some cool facts about the city and spent time in an incredible neighborhood. I definitely recommend Eating Italy if you find yourself in Rome.

Eating Italy
http://www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com/
1-215-688-5571

P.S. Sebastian and I will be in San Francisco for a few days in September. Any great food recommendations?

Milano

17 May

Italy feels so long ago, but I still like to close my eyes and go back there. It was a wonderful trip – filled with friends, food and amazing cities. Although we spent the majority of our trip in Rome, we also visited Milan since Thomas, Sebastian’s twin, was studying there at the time. And we never pass up an opportunity to explore a new city, so we started and ended our vacation there.

Lucky for us, Thomas’s girlfriend Milena was also visiting – I love it when the four of us can get together. The first day we took things slow, starting at this great little restaurant called Bello e Buono that Thomas discovered on, you guessed it, Trip Advisor.

Bello E Buono #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com Gnocchi #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

We came in at the end of a very busy lunch hour. The place was tiny so we waited patiently for a table. Everything felt quintessentially Italian – loud kitchen, homemade pasta and pizza, and traditional decor. We talked to the owner after our meal, such a nice guy, and he generously gifted us a bottle of homemade wine. Our day was off to a great start.

Eating Gnocchi #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

Fresh Pasta #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

Group Photo #Milan

After lunch we walked to the Milan Cathedral (Duomo) and its plaza filled with pigeons and tourists. I loved people watching there. We also checked out the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest malls. I wouldn’t call it a mall, though.

#Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

#Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

#Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

Then we headed to Sforza Castle – the inside was closed but it was cool walking around the interior courtyard. It would make for a cool movie set. We wrapped up our evening at a little café to catch up and swap stories about how we met.

After Rome, we came back to Milan. The last day of our trip we went back to the Duomo and met up with Thomas and Milena at an outdoor market. We decided to pick up some fresh ingredients and spend the evening making dinner together.  Before heading home we stopped at California Bakery, near Thomas’s school, for dessert and a cappuccino. Then it was off to cook!

Duomo Daytime #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

Pigeon Chasing #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

Market #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

#Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

We had a blast making dinner together. Me and Milena were dancing around in between chopping veggies, and the boys were figuring out how to recreate the deep-fried artichokes we had in Rome. When everything was said and done, our dishes included homemade guacamole, tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, fresh bread and fried eggplant.

Dinner #Milan #Italy | www.the-wild-child.com

With just a couple of days, we only scraped the surface of Milan. But it was more fun hanging out with good friends versus trying to be super tourists. As I always say, it’s just another reason to go back some day.

I’m a bad blogger

13 May

Well, hello there. It’s been awhile. Looking back at my blogging history, April is always a rough month for me, and this year was no different. I’ve been a bad blogger again.

I leave for Germany in less than two weeks… say what?! And I still want to finish all my vacation recaps from Italy (which was MONTHS ago) and Boston before I go. More travel posts to come in the next few weeks!

In the meantime, why don’t we cover some highlights from April since I didn’t blog THE ENTIRE MONTH…

Best Part

Spending a weekend in Boston with my parents and catching up with my cousin Alli. This was our first time visiting the city, and we absolutely loved it. There is so much history in the streets, and since we were there right before the marathon, you could really feel the unity and spirit. If you’ve never been, book your trip ASAP. I’ll post a recap soon!

Family in #Boston | www.the-wild-child.com

Favorite Thing I Did

Touring the USS Constitution in Boston. I really love boats, and this one is especially cool. She is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. And in case you didn’t guess, the ship was named after the Constitution of the USA, by none other than George Washington himself. It was one of my favorite stops on the Freedom Trail.

USS Constitution #Boston | www.the-wild-child.com

Favorite Thing I Ate

I cheated big time on my nutrition plan Easter Sunday – with good reason. We went to Limoncello in Boston’s Little Italy, and I ordered a very delicious veal parm. The meal was topped off with a stop at Mike’s Pastry and an enormous cannoli. Don’t tell my CrossFit coach.

Italian Food #Boston | www.the-wild-child.com

Cannoli in Boston | www.the-wild-child.com

Places I Visited

Just one: Boston. Seeing a theme here?

Favorite Instagram Photo

Captain in #Boston | www.the-wild-child.com

 Just call me Captain MJ

Looking Forward to Most in May

A week in Berlin with Sebastian with essentially no plans. We’re going to try out new restaurants, meet up with friends and have the most relaxing time. CAN’T WAIT.

The meal I still dream about

17 Mar

Can you think of one meal that you would repeat over and over if you could? I’m not talking about your go to comfort foods (mine is tomato soup and grilled cheese) or your favorite food of all time (I can eat salt and vinegar chips like it’s my job). I’m talking about the most delicious meal you had in your entire life that still makes your mouth water just thinking about it.

For me, it was a dinner I shared with Sebastian at a little restaurant in Paris called Chez Marie Louise. The bf and I both adore Trip Advisor and spend many hours researching before our travels. I wish I had stumbled upon this gem, but it was Sebastian who discovered it.

If you read the reviews, you’ll see that it’s now ranked #37 of restaurants in Paris, and with good reason. The atmosphere is lovely, the prices are reasonable, the service is outstanding and the food is out of this world amazing.

Eggplant at Chez Marie Louise | www.the-wild-child.com

We started our meal with warm eggplant, ricotta cheese and tomato confit. After one bite, I knew our evening was going to be awesome. For the main course, I chose the scallop ravioli with lemon butter and fried zucchini, and Sebastian had veal kidney with beans and orecchiette pasta. Let me just say, I would eat those ravioli for every meal if I could – to die. The kidney tasted like kidney, but I was proud that I tried it – the bf thought it was very tasty.

Scallop Ravioli at Chez Marie Louise | www.the-wild-child.com

Veal Kidney at Chez Marie Louise | www.the-wild-child.com

We finished dinner with a dark chocolate cake with hand-harvested sea salt. You guys, I was in heaven. From the cozy, intimate setting to the chalkboard menu to the wonderful food selections –you really can’t go wrong.

Chocolate Cake at Chez Marie Louise | www.the-wild-child.com

If you ever find yourself in Paris, head to the 10th arrondissement near the Saint Martin canal. The place is small, so I recommend reserving a table before you go. And seriously, you have to go.

Chez Marie Louise
11 rue Marie et Louise – 75010
www.chezmarielouise.com

Chapel Thrill

15 Mar

Last weekend I had the loveliest time with my dear friend Lindsay in Chapel Hill, NC. We trampolined, hung out with her fun philosophy friends (which included late nights and lots of laughs), cheered on the Tar Heels and met the sweetest dog Silke.

A mini vacation was exactly what I needed. I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful sunshine, patio-worthy weather and time with one of my favorite people in the whole world. I felt more relaxed this week and ready to take on the rest of winter. But please come soon spring.

Defty Gravity, Durham #northcarolina | www.the-wild-child.com

Ballon Animals | www.the-wild-child.com balloon animal shadows – you don’t want to know
Sweet Silke dog | www.the-wild-child.com sweet Silke
Chapel Hill #northcarolina | www.the-wild-child.com view from Top of the Hill patio

Cheering for Tar Heels | www.the-wild-child.com

Thank you Spicey for another great visit! xoxo

2014 travel plans

28 Feb

Surprise! It’s snowing again in Ohio… All this cold weather has me longing for warmer days and vacation getaways. I love travel planning and daydreaming about all the places I’ll explore. Here’s where I’m planning to head this year…

– Chapel Hill, NC, in March – 

Chapel Hill, NC | www.the-wild-child.com

I can’t wait to visit my dear friend Lindsay in Chapel Hill. I made it there a couple of years ago, and I’ll be heading back next week. The last visit was so lovely. I can only imagine the shenanigans we’ll get into this time around.

– Boston, MA, in April –

Fenway Park

My little brother is running the Boston Marathon with his squadron – what better reason to visit? And we’ll get the chance to hang out with my cousin Alli as well.  We’re planning to attend a game at Fenway Park, and I really hope we do the Sam Adams Brewery tour.

– Berlin, Germany in May –

#Berlin | www.the-wild-child.com

The bf and I still haven’t decided if we’re staying in Germany or heading somewhere else, but I’m kind of liking the idea of a staycation in Berlin. Mainly because I have a list of at least ten new restaurants I want to try. And we could do a few day trips to Hamburg or other neighboring cities that I have yet to visit.

– Eugene, OR, in July –

Eugene, OR | www.the-wild-child.com

I’m so excited for this trip! My cousin Kelsey and I will be visiting my sister over the 4th, and I know it’s going to be a blast. Can’t wait to check out Eugene and Portland and see why my sister loves Oregon so much.

– Colorado Springs, CO, in August –

Colorado Springs | www.the-wild-child.com

I had such a great time with my family last year, so I’m heading back to the US Air Force Academy for Parents Weekend. Hopefully Sebastian will join us this year! We’re all renting a big house together in Colorado Springs – good times are guaranteed.

– San Francisco, CA, in September –

San Francisco | www.the-wild-child.com

After a weekend in Colorado, I’m hoping Sebastian and I can do a California trip. I really want to visit San Francisco again or maybe do a wine tour in Northern Cali. Endless options here.

– TBD trip in November –

La Romana | www.the-wild-child.com

Every few years I end up doing a mini-vacation around Thanksgiving. I don’t know where I want to go yet, but maybe somewhere warm. It will probably be snowing by then or at least cold. Caribbean anyone?

– Europe for NYE –

These past two years, Sebastian has visited the states over the holidays, so I’m thinking a trip to see him would be nice. The last time I was in Europe for New Year’s Eve, we spent it in Berlin. I wouldn’t mind visiting again.

Throw in a few wedding weekends, work trips and last-minute decisions to visit friends – this is sure to be another great year of travel.

What about you? Where are you heading this year?

image 2 via, images 4,5,6 courtesy my sister

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12 hours in Austin

4 Feb

Gosh dang it, I wish we had spent more time in Austin. The city is so lively, so quirky and yes, so weird. You know how the slogan goes, keep Austin weird, y’all. Well, I added the y’all, but you get the point. Austin is a blast and lucky for us, just an hour drive from San Antonio.

We only had one day to explore, and we did our best to make the most of it (even with my disgusting head cold). A big thanks to Sebastian for putting up with my constant nose blowing, slow walking and whiny moments.

Here’s how we spent 12 hours in the capital of Texas:

Late breakfast/early lunch at Lucky’s Puccias
Open: Mon-Tues 11a.m.-3p.m.; Wed-Fri 11a.m.-3p.m. and 6-9p.m.; Sat 12-2p.m. and 6-9p.m.; Sun 12-2p.m.
Address: 817 W. 5th Street

Lucky's Puccias in Austin | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

Since I felt like I was on my death bed the day before we visited Austin, we spent a lot of time in our hotel room watching the Food Network. Ever see Eat St.? They cover all the amazing street food you can find in the U.S. and we just so happened to see an episode featuring Austin. Coincidence? Maybe. Destiny? Definitely. Our first stop in Austin was straight to Lucky’s Puccias, where the bread is made to order – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside delicious Puccia bread. I tried one with prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, tomato and basil oil, while the bf had the Puccia Classica with smoked ham, fontina cheese, mixed greens, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo. This was a great kick-off to exploring Austin.

Lucky's Puccias in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

Get your history on at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum
Open: 9a.m.-5p.m.
Cost: $8 for adults
Address: 2313 Red River Street

Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

This was the second Presidential Library I’ve ever visited, and I have to say, I was very impressed. There were great exhibits, including a legacy gallery of the legislation passed by LBJ, images and artifacts from the fatal day JFK was assassinated, a social justice gallery featuring Civil Rights background, LBJ’s limousine, cases of gifts received by the Johnsons and a reproduction of the Oval Office. The museum showcases so much history, not only on LBJ, but America as a whole during his presidency.

Leisurely stroll at the Texas State Capitol
Open: Weekdays 7a.m.-10p.m.; Sat-Sun 9a.m.-8p.m.
Address: Congress and 11th St. (although you really can’t miss it when you’re downtown)

State Capitol in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

This wasn’t on the top of my list, but when in Austin. However, the Texas capitol building really is beautiful (and it’s free). We enjoyed leisurely walking through and checking out the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the interior architecture. Fun fact – it’s taller than the U.S. Capitol in D.C., and the dome itself is worth the visit.

State Capitol Dome in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

Inside the capitol building in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

State Capitol building in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin[how cute is this guy?]

Afternoon pick me up at Chupacabra Cantina
Open: 11a.m.-2a.m.
Address: 400 East 6th Street

Chupacabra Cantina in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

After learning about LBJ and walking through the state capitol, we were hungry – but not hungry enough for dinner. We wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine so we randomly happened upon the Chupacabra Cantina with an outdoor patio. It had a bit of a hipster flair, but the Tex-Mex was delicious. We tried the deluxe nachos, and I had a massive margarita. It was the perfect place to people watch and felt oh so Austin.

Bar hopping on Sixth Street

In addition to the Chupacabra Cantina, there are a bunch of different restaurants/clubs/bars you can check out on Sixth Street. It’s part of the entertainment district in Austin, and most places we passed had live music playing. We didn’t actually bar hop, but it would be a fun place to do it if you have more time.

Dinner at Foreign & Domestic
Open: Tue-Thurs 5:30-9:30p.m.; Fri-Sat 5:30-11p.m.; Sun-Mon Closed
Address: 306 E. 53rd St.

Chefs cooking at Foreign and Domestic in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

This restaurant was another stop on our Diners Drive-Ins and Dives tour, and along with the others, it did not disappoint. It’s located in a tiny building on the outskirts of the city. We opted to sit at the counter and watch as our dinner was prepared. They have a clear attention to detail, resulting in beautiful and delicious food. I tried the salmon with cauliflower, brussel sprouts, capers and almonds, and Sebastian had the cacao e pepe with parmesan, chestnuts and black truffle. If you ever make it there, ask for the gruyere popovers as an appetizer. Beyond amazing.

Foreign and Domestic in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

Delicious dinner at Foreign and Domestic in Austin Texas | www.the-wild-child.com #austin

If I wasn’t so worn out from the day (stupid cold), we would have headed back to Sixth Street, but I was ready to go home. I’m looking forward to going back some day – I know we only scratched the surface of this city.