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+ Photos and ramblings from a Denver-based couple as they discover the world, one country at a time.

Old TownPiwna StreetOld TownMi?dzy Nami CafeThom's sushiOld Town Market Square at duskPiwna StreetOld Town Market SquareOld Town Market SquareBunting + lightsBreakfast bagle at My'o'MyAbandoned buildingRoyal CastleSea of thirsty peopleTyskieMarie Curie MuseumOld Town Market Square

WARSAW

Everything about Old Town Warsaw is picture perfect. When we arrived at the main train terminal we were hot and tired and really not impressed with the city at that point. But when our cabbie (take a cab, it’s ridiculously cheap) dropped us at our apartment, we got out and our jaws dropped. Literally. If there ever was a storybook town, this is one of them (amongst several others we encountered on the trip) (looking at you, Cesky Krumlov!). The part of the city worth exploring isn’t all that big, so you don’t need a lot of time in Warsaw. We recommend hitting up a few of the sites and then wandering aimlessly; no itinerary, no set of places to go – just explore.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum is across town but is an absolute must see. It’s rather long and requires some participation on your part, but it’s insanely interactive and insightful. You may not be able to catch everything, as it can get busy (especially on weekends), but make sure you check out the day-to-day interaction of the war. Oh, and don’t miss the top floor cafe – they’ve got fresh fruit and dessert and caffeinated beverages galore.

Speaking of food, the grub didn’t really wow us in Warsaw (which, I guess, is to be expected). But we did stumble upon a few gems which made for happy bellies. My’O'My is a must for brunch and Delikatest Esencja for drinks. If weather permits, seat yourself outdoors. Always.

Eat
Oto!Sushi - Delicious sushi on the cheap.
My’O'My - Great spot for brunch. Go for one of the bagel burgers (not the mushroom variety) or a scramble.
Gospoda Kwiaty Polskie – Inviting atmosphere and just off the main square. They serve up huge bowls of delicious cabbage and fry a mean chop.

Drink
Green Coffee - Smooth coffee and a cozy atmosphere. If you’re into flaky pastries loaded with sweet stuff, this is your place to get them.
Relaks Kawiarnia - Supposedly the best coffee in Warsaw. It was good, but best is certainly subjective.
Snok Na Sok – We popped in for a post brunch juice fix and were not disappointed. Uses mostly fresh produce; a few things are frozen. Highly recommend for hot days, or if your body’s just craving something healthy.

Go
Warsaw Uprising Museum – Be sure not to miss the hangar or the videos.
Lokal_30 - This place is free and straight up weird. If you’re in the area and have a spare five minutes, go. And leave bewildered.
Old Town Market Place – Go for a drink, a bite to eat, or just to look at the pretty buildings

Sleep
We rented the most beautiful apartment in Old Town. The area, surprisingly, wasn’t the least bit busy or touristy, despite being just one street over from the most happenin’ square in town. We highly recommend staying there, as the shower was excellent and the bed was almost as comfy as ours back home.

Ashlae likes to run
Old Town makes for a decent run, but since it’s small you won’t be able to clock more than 4 miles without a lot of repetition. If you feel like wandering, bring your phone as it’s easy to get lost and not many people speak English.

Pots at Oskar Schindler's FactoryFavorite man at Ulica KanoniczaSamosas at GlonojadKrakowOld TownThe BarnSwings at Esze"Arbeit macht frei"Wild strawberryView from our apartmentPretty doors in the Jewish QuarterHotel WariszawskStreet art in the Jewish QuarterMorning feast (heavy on da sprouts)MiniMuseum of Contemporary ArtWieliczka Salt Mine

KRAKOW

Like Berlin, our time in Krakow was emotionally challenging and moved us in way we didn’t think were possible. From Oskar Schindler’s Factory and visiting the concentration camps, to staying in the Jewish Quarter and witnessing their struggles over 70 years after the war, it took an intense toll on us. But it was an experience we’ll never forget. We opted to stay in the Jewish Quarter so we could get a better feel for the city. For the locals and their culture. And although it’s a bit run down than other (more touristy) parts of the city, there’s a hidden elegance buried beneath the facade of the old neighborhood. Which is why we recommend you stay there if you’re up for something a little bit different; something that is sure to present an emotional challenge each time you step out the door.

If you visit Krakow, a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau is an absolute must. However, if you arrive between 10AM and 3PM, you’ll be forced to take a three and a half hour group tour which is a total snoozefest. We arrived just after 10 and got stuck on a tour, but after five minutes we both looked at each other, stuffed our headsets in our backpacks, removed our group stickers, and walked around without a guide – just like we were two people who arrived before 10. I imagine going rogue is only doable until about noon, as it only takes 2 hours to get through the camp on your own (1.5 for us because a lot of it was repeat) (and then there was the whole hiding from our group thing). Also, the Birkenau Camp is a must. The capicaty of that place is mind boggling and absolutely horrifying and is something you really shouldn’t miss considering it’s just a few minutes from Auschwitz. Just make sure you bring your walking shoes and a bottle of water. And maybe a sandwich in case you get lost. Oh, and tissues. Lots of fucking tissues.

If you plan on visiting the Salt Mine, don’t put it off until the day your train leaves town (like us). It’s a good 2 1/2 hours from the time you enter the mine until you exit (although some trustworthy internet sites say otherwise). The bus from Krakow (304) takes about an hour and 15 minutes and costs 4 zlty per person. In a taxi it’s about 65 zlty, but only 20 minutes. We took a bus out and the taxi back into town because we were crunched for time and wanted to squeeze in one last meal at MoMo Vegetarian and do a bit of wandering.

One last thing: Poland, Krakow especially, is extremely (extreeemely) affordable. Most days we had to try hard to spend more than €50, and that was after we’d eaten three meals, bought trinkets, had a few beers, ice cream, chocolate, etc. Main Square Market is painfully touristy, but a must see as it’s the largest town square in Europe. Make a quick stop, get some photos, then navigate the back streets because that’s where all the good stuff hides. So many great shops and cafes; a perfect place to spend all the money you’re saving.

Eat
Bal – Breakfast in an open and airy space near the Contemporary Art Museum and Schindler’s Factory. Thumbs up to the quiche!
MoMo Vegetarian - Delicious Indian food served up deli style with hearty portions. We both went for the Thali and it did not disappoint. Get a ginger lemonade.
Love Krove – Gourmet burgers with the works. Award for best potato wedges. Man got the onion monster and the lady chowed down on bowl of wedges and a big ass (Charlotte) salad.
Glonojad – Vegetarian cafe with incredible food that is insanely cheap. We shared three meals (we were hungry), salads, an order of samosas, AND TWO BEERS for less than 60 zlty. Or €15.

Treats
Lody na Starowislnej – Thom took a bite of the wild strawberry ice cream and exclaimed OH MY GOD! This is the best ice cream I’ve ever had. We went every day until we left.

Drink
Go! – This tiny shop packs quite the punch with their coffee. I figured it’d be watered down but it turned out to be a favorite.
Massolit Books and Cafe – Grab a good book and enjoy your coffee. Or tea.
Esze - Funky cafe with swings at the bar and quirky objects all around. Highly recommend, especially late afternoon before it gets too busy.
Mleczarnia - Outdoor beer garden with ample tree coverage and local vibes. One of our favorite places to wind down and grab a drink.
Karma - We went for the fair trade coffee but they also had delicious looking desserts and healthy-ish eats.

Go
Wieliczka Salt Mine - Super touristy, but impressive nonetheless.
Day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau - Not optional. An absolute must see.
Main Square – Crowded, but entertaining. Steer clear of the underground market – it’s pretty cheesy.
Museum of Contemporary Art - One of the better contemporary art museums we’ve seen. Free every Tuesday!
Oskar Schindler Factory - Tour the factory owned by a member of the Nazi Party who saved the lives of over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

Sleep
One of the downsides to planning everything on the fly is that sometimes you get stuck with the leftovers on AirBnb. We went with a place that had a serious interior design conflict happening (and some weird things going on with the faucet) but other than that, it served its purpose and had a great view of the buildings across the street.

Ashlae likes to run
There’s a path along the river that makes for a breezy long run. You could run and run and run for miles, but make sure you get there early because it gets packed with bikers and dog walkers and other runners (this may only apply during the summer months).

Katholische HofkircheDresden NeustadtStaatlichen KunstsammlungeBoat ride on the ElbeThe house that sings in the rainOutdoors at RaskolnikoffThe FürstenzugFrauenkircheView of the FrauenkircheFarewell (veggie) burgers

DRESDEN

If not for family ties, Dresden would’t have even been a destination during the trip. But we were happy to pass through to spend some quality time with Ashlae’s Aunt and Uncle, and see a different side of Germany. Dresden is small in comparison to most places we’ve visited, and it was nice to be somewhere we could relax and not feel pressured to get out and see the sites (because there aren’t too many of them). Not to mention, it was interesting to witness a first hand account of the impact of WWII.

One of the highlights of our trip to Dresden was the night cruise we took along the Elbe. The four of us enjoyed dinner and drinks while drifting down the river to the tune of a fancy handed piano player. Take note: You can only buy tickets at the stands along the river. It’s also best to make sure you board the boat about 30 minutes early so you get a table with a view at the top. The tour is long and slow, but the change of pace was nice.

Eat
Cuchi Sushi – Delicious sushi, but we were seriously disappointed when we discovered the soy sauce provided with our takeaway contained high fructose corn syrup and other unnecessary additives.
Die Pastamanufaktur – Three words: Fresh, homemade pasta. Too damn good to miss.
Lotus Bio Imbiss – Delicious veggie burgers. Mine was smothered in cheese and the lady had hers Mediterranean style. Both were delicious. Extremely affordable.

Drink
Watzke - They brew their own beers and have an extensive German dinner menu. Order the pig knuckle and you won’t be disappointed. Unless you don’t eat meat, then go for the big salad.
Raskolnikoff – Great outdoor atmosphere in an original building that withstood the Dresden bombings. They also offer food.

Go
The Albertinium - Impressive modern art exhibit and statue collection. It’s small in size, making it perfect to hop in for an hour when you’re trying to escape the heat. Or cold.
Elbe River night cruise - Easily the most laid back, enjoyable 3.5 hours of our time in Dresden.

Ashlae likes to run
There’s a paved trail along the Elbe River that makes for a killer (and scenic) run. Bonus: You can’t get lost.

Brandenburg GateEats from ViaskoFlowers at Nr. 62The KissCaffeine meRoasted in BerlinDanceUntitledCurrywurst at Konnopke's ImbissMemorial to the Murdered Jews of EuropeUntitledBerliner at Keyser SozeKuchi sushiBerliner Dom + TV towerMitteCafé OlivMitteCitrusClärchens BallhausREVOLT

BERLIN

If you’re on a tour of the main cities in Europe, Berlin stands out like a sore thumb. But not in a bad way. Here’s what you need to know: Berlin isn’t going to wow you with its immaculate architecture or perfectly manicured gardens or picturesque skylines. It has been through a lot and that’s quite evident by the fact it’s in a constant state of repair. If you’re able to look beyond the crumbling buildings and swarms of cranes, you’ll find a place that’s rich in both culture and history – and to us, that trumps an aesthetically pleasing city.

If you plan on staying in Berlin, we highly recommend finding a place in old East Berlin. It isn’t the most convenient (or comfortable) location, but it’s more affordable and feels truly authentic compared to the commercialized West. When we weren’t visiting the sites, we spent most of our free time wandering through Mitte and Kreuzberg, and really enjoyed both neighborhoods. If we had to pick a favorite, Mitte wins as it is littered with so many of our favorite places in the city (Keyser Soze, Factory Girl, Clärchens Ballhaus, etc). If you’re into graffiti or street art, Berlin is an absolulte must as they have some of the most interesting and diverse pieces of art. Like the East Side gallery, which shouldn’t be missed.

Eat
Viasko - We’d eat at Viasko every day if we lived in Berlin. And had a disposable income. They serve delicious vegan fare and have a great beer selection. We went with the capellini in lemon sauce, beetroot carpaccio, and a big ass salad. We left with happy bellies.
Café Oliv – Healthy breakfast and lunch options with stunning desserts and delicious coffee. Snag a table outside if you can.
Kuchi – Sushi at a reasonable price. The man recommends the nigiri eel and the lady recommends the avocado maki. The outdoor patio is inviting, but the indoor seating makes for intimate cozy times.
Sgaminegg – Creating meals around the slow food philosophy, this café gets it right. Although they don’t have a load of offerings, what they do have is in line with their organic and local principles. They have a great kitchen store in the back, and offer up breakfast and simple lunch fare (mixed salad, bread, soup, etc). If you’re in the area, swing by – but don’t go out of your way.
Konnopke’s Imbiss – Touted as the best currywurst in town. Tell ‘em to go light on the ketchup.
Factory Girl – Serves caffeinated beverages as well as deli style eats and sweet treats in a cozy, welcoming environment. There’s a burger joint next door that looks delicious – swing by if you’re in the mood for some greasy stuff.

Drink
Keyser Soze – Ace place for drinks. Grab a table outside then kickback (with booze) and people watch.
The Barn – They roast their own coffee and whip up some mean desserts. The interior is stunning and minimal, but with a rough edge. Cozy enough to stay for a while, but the street view will make you want to get out and explore.
Nr. 62 – Living room bar with funky vibes and pretty flowers adorning each of the tables.
Clärchens Ballhaus - Biergarten with a large outdoor seating area, tangled with greenery and strung with pretty lights. Inside is a large dining room, and each night they offer dance classes that last until 4 or 5 in the morning. If you visit, be sure you arrive before 5PM to secure an outdoor table. And make sure you order a pizza.

Go
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe - Fascinating, informative, and incredibly moving. The outside memorial itself is stunning, but the museum is an absolute must visit.
Hackesche Höfe – Funky area of eight interconnected courtyards. Make sure you check out some of the shops!
East Side Gallery - Graffiti on the Berlin wall. Make sure you check out both sides. Stop for a drink along the river if you’ve got the time.

Sleep
We really wanted to rent this loft, but during high season they only rent out the entire apartment. Instead we went the cheaper route and rented a room (with facilities shared with another room) in a bed and breakfast type apartment. We weren’t there much, so sharing the facilities wasn’t a bother.

Ashlae likes to run
Running in Berlin was one of the most enjoyable running experiences of my life. The city is pretty flat, but you can see so much of it in an hours worth of running. Run along the wall, past the Brandenburg Gate, and through the tiergarten, which offers a much needed escape from the busy city.

AmsterdamBreakfast at GsGsGuy drinking beerCafé BrechtUntitledAmsterdamCanalsSo many jamsJammin' at De BakkerswinkelSunflowers at Albert Cuyp MarktDE KASGardenShared course oneDe KasHeirloomsGreenhouse at De KasChocolatlI like you, AmsterdamPretty apartments in De PijpBikes on bikes on bikes

AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam is full of character and bursting with wild and lively things. We spent most of our time in the Jordaan and De Pijp neighborhoods, and really enojyed them both (but if we had to pick a favorite, Jordaan wins). Amsterdam is a pedestrian city so, like Paris, we highly recommend renting a bike or walking to as many places as you can – along the way you’ll discover little gems you wouldn’t have noticed by car or tram. Not to mention, the city is so visually distracting (in the best way possible) that you won’t even realize how much you’re walking or cycling (or how bad your legs ache). And if you need to take a load off, popping into a café for a beer or dessert is never a bad idea. In fact, we highly recommend it.

Beware: Coffeeshops sell ganja, not coffee. If you want coffee, you need to look for a café. But if you want ganja, we recommend going to the red-light district. And if you’re lonely and want sex, you can find that there, too.

Eat
De Bolhoed - Vegetable heavy (mostly vegan) food done right. Don’t order the quiche unless you like your quiches light on the eggs, loaded with vegetables, and topped with a shitload of seeds.
Gs - HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF DELICIOUS BREAKFAST. You’d be a fool to miss this place. You’d also be a fool to show up without a reservation, unless you like waiting with a rumbling belly. Also: BOOZE.
De Bakkerswinkle - Cozy cafe with fresh baked scones and bread (amongst other breakfast items), plus a killer jam/curd selection. They serve lunch and other savory items, as well.
No Sushi – Takeout (only) sushi done right. They have limited options, but they’re sure to satisfy vegans and meat eaters alike.
De Kas – We lunched in a greenhouse eating herbs and tomatoes grown within 100 feet of where we were seated – and everything else was was sourced from local farms around the city. Eating there was truly a remarkable experience – and to top it off, one of the chef’s was kind enough to give us a tour of the grounds + kitchen. We cannot recommend De Kas enough.

Treats
Organics – Grocery store with a decent chocolate selection. They have other ogranic offerings, but let’s not kid anyone: we were there for the chocolate. Rather, Ashlae was there for the chocolate.
Chocolátl – The lady went on a €50 shopping spree and got some seriously decadent chocolate bars. They aren’t particularly cheap, but the owners let you sample everything (seriously, EVERYTHING) so that kind of makes it worth it. Recommended: Grenada Chocolate Company‘s Nib-a-Licious and Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé‘s Cacao Criollo.
Metropolitan Deli – Chocolate, espresso, ice cream, waffles, etc. Go for the truffles – they’re worth their weight in gold.
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx – Ya know, if you’re drunk or have the munchies.

Drink
Café Brecht - Great brews, caffeinated beverages, and decor similar to what you’d expect to see if you walked into a house that had been abandoned for 50 years (read: AWESOME). We sat around sipping beer and coffee for a good three hours, enjoying the tunes (Ella Fitzgerald! Louis Armstrong! Billie Holiday!) and admiring the little details and various trinkets scattered around the café.
La Fruteria – Smoothies and juices.. and waffles for the person who isn’t into healthy eating. The man had bright eyes (vegetable heavy) and the lady went for strawberry banana. Both hit the spot.
Café ‘t Smalle – The service was slow but the canal view more than made up for it. And the beer selection was top notch.
Screaming Beans - Coffee done right. Welcoming atmosphere and surprisingly spacious despite the entrance being rather cramped. Grab an Americano and a pastry, and cozy up to a table in the back. Or outside if you’re down for a little sunshine and people watching.
Arendsnest – 30 different Dutch beers on draught, meaning there’s something for every taste. Great ambiance and service, and close to all the local spots, but far enough removed from the touristy areas.

Go
Van Gogh Museum - To skip the lines, order tickets online ahead of time.
Rijksmuseum – If you plan on going to the Van Gogh Museum as well, get the museum pass.
Anne Frank Museum
Albert Cuyp Market – Funky little market with everything from flowers and fresh fruit to tennis shoes and wood tables. Stroll through early in the morning to avoid the sea of people.
Walk along the canals
Rent a bike

Sleep
We stayed at the Okura Hotel, but can’t recommend it. I have a problem with hotels (especially ones with prices as high as theirs) charging exorbitant fees for fitness facilities and wifi (they do offer free basic wifi, but it’s slow as hell). The rooms were nice, but it was too business focused for us. Bonuses include: Nespresso machine. 5 foot soaking tub. Rainfall shower. Luxury matress. AIR CONDITIONING. And being able to be as annoying and as demanding as you want because you know the person in the executive suite above you is being 10x worse.

Run
Visually speaking, the city makes for a great run. But physically? The cobblestone sidewalks will beat the shit out of your feet and ankles – especially if you wear minimalist running shoes. Do your stubborn self a favor and find a pretty park.

View of Sacré-Coeur from Centre PompiduBlackberry sorbetto + peach gelatoCafé des Deux MoulinsAu Marche de la ButteSacré-CoeurSayonara, Paris!Montmartre
MontmartreAn embarrassing representation of AmericaTouristParisian rooftopsThe LouvreMona Lisa and the crowdLunch at Le Grenier de Notre DameCream puffs at OdetteJardins du château de VersaillesSchlub at VersaillesOpen for businessLADURÉEView from the ArcOverpriced eclairs

PARIS

For the most part, we spent our days in Paris wandering aimlessly around the city (ahem, 14km to Montmartre and back during one particular stroll) (when it was 94°F, no less), admiring the stunning Parisian architecture and discovering some of our new favorite places.

If you’re a fan of museums, Paris is full of them. And even if you’re not, we have no doubt you’ll find at least a couple you enjoy. Aside from the usual art galleries, there’s an underground ossuary as well as a sewer museum – which both sound a little unusual, but we promise they’re especially impressive. If you’d rather spend your days drinking wine on patios or exploring the neighborhoods, we highly recommend at least paying a visit to Pompidou (the view is insane!) and l’Orangerie (two words: water lilies). The Louvre is a no brainer, but is terribly crowded and hardly enjoyable during high season. Try popping in during their later hours, which are offered several nights a week. If you plan on doing a bit of museum hopping, the Paris Museum Pass is always the way to go.

The pick pockets are downright awful in Paris. In fact, they’re worse now than when we visited a couple of years ago. Upon arriving at the train station, we noticed a few American tourists getting scammed by a dude who was trying to sell them €5 worth of tickets for €70. SEVENTY EUROS! We intervened, demanding the scammer return the money – and he did, but then he ran off (probably in search of his next victim). It could have been a seriously unfortunate situation those folks and, sadly, hundreds of tourists get duped by the scammers each day. As long as your conscious and aware of your surroundings, you’ll be fine. As for the scammers, their methods tend to vary, but they’re sneaky and good at what they do. Take our advice and don’t trust anyone – not the people wanting you to sign petitions, groups of unsupervised children running around, and definitely not the scumbags pretending they’re there to help you purchase tickets at the train station. If you go to Sacré-Coeur, steer clear of the guys “selling” bracelets – if they’re successful at tying one to your wrist, they make you pay a ridiculous price. If it seems like the place is filled with crazy people who are out to get you – it is in certain areas, but it’s also one of the most magical and beautiful cities in the world.

Living in Denver and being that we’re environmentally responsible humans, we’re used to walking everywhere – and Paris was no exception. In fact, we can count on one hand the number of times we took the metro or a taxi during our nine day stay. If you’re in a hurry and need to get places quick, the metro is incredibly easy to use but make sure you have cash (unless you’ve got a credit card with a chip in it). If you’ve got the extra time, try walking or taking a bike – it is by far the best option and allows you to really see the city and appreciate the interconnectivity of the different arrondissements. Not to mention, Paris is one of the most graffiti-laden cities in the world – and the street art is more enjoyable when you’re exploring by foot. Life in Paris is much slower than other cities in comparable size, so take your time and enjoy it. And if you miss a museum or don’t make it to a certain restaurant – relax and go get a baguette. Fresh baguettes make everything better.

If you’re looking for a more thorough guide to the city, our Coloradan-turned-Parisian friend Meg has got you covered.

Eat
Le Bistrot d’Henri – 7 hour roast lamb for the man, pasta tossed in olive oil with tomato confit (not on the menu) for the lady. Plus bread and wine. If you miss this gem of a restaurant while visiting Paris, you’ve deprived yourself of some seriously incredible food. We went during both lunch and dinner, but preferred the atmosphere and service at dinner time.
Le Grenier de Notre Dame – Vegetarian menu with hearty servings and clean eats.
Chettinadu Mess - Indian food done right. Be sure to order a samosa. Or ten.
Le Grand Appetit - Really, really healthy food (boiled grains, raw vegetables, legumes, etc). Great to get the bowels moving if you’ve ingested too much chocolate or bread or beer. Or all three.
Café des Deux Moulins – If you’re a fan of Amélie, go in for a bite to eat or grab a quick drink.
Sol Semilla – For your superfood fix.
Du Pain et Des Idées – Half a dozen people recommended we go here. Go for the bread and the pastries, but be prepared to wait in line.. and don’t expect to get a baguette.
Café Pinson – Seemingly hip vegetarian cafe with good beers, savory eats, and vegan dessert options.

Treats
Odette - The owner named the shop after his grandmother and uses her traditional cream puff recipe, but fills them with non-traditional cream puff flavors. Take your treats to the first level (second floor, in America) and cozy up to the table next to the window – it boasts quite a view (you’ll see).
L’Atelier de l’Éclair – Creative flavors and delicious eclairs, but insanely expensive at almost €5 a pop.
Pierre Hermé – Subtly sweet macarons in a variety of creative flavors.
Ladurée – Ridiculously long lines and over the top decor. The flavors are simple and the macarons are perfectly crunchy on the outside and meringue-y on the inside.
Berthillon - According to most (us included) this place serves up the best ice cream in all the city.
Sugarplum Cake Shop – They don’t open until after noon, but stop in for a sweet treat and admire the pretty cakes.

Drink
WOS bar – This is a must visit during American football season, as they air most games. Otherwise, we can’t justify the high prices.
Find any cafe with outdoor seating + a pretty street view and enjoy a glass of wine.

Go
Jardin des Tuileries - Pack a lunch, eat at a cafe, or just stroll on through.
Jardin du Luxembourg – We were a hop, skip, and a jump away from this place and enjoyed wandering through it most during the evening hours.
Rue Mouffetard – We visited nearly every day, as it was less than half a mile from our apartment. Don’t go too early or else you’ll miss the open air market.
Versailles day trip – If you don’t mind waiting for hours to get into the palace, make a day of it. If you’re opposed to looking at tacky fountains and perfectly cut shrubbery all day, give it a quick walk through and say AU REVOIR!
Giverny day trip – Visit the gardens and pond that inspired Monet’s water lilies.
Montmartre – A charming neighborhood worthy of at least a few of your hours.
Shakespeare and Company – A funky bookstore run by expats. Definitely a must visit if you’re going to Notre Dame.

Museums
Musée de l’Orangerie – Eight of Monet’s water lily painting are on display and they’re absolutely stunning in person.
Centre Pompidou – Modern art with a panoramic view of Paris.
Musée du Louvre – Coronation of Napoleon, Mona Lisa, Law Code of Hammurabi, Venus de Milo, etc.
Musée d’Orsay - Stunning building, and an entire floor devoted to impressionism (our personal favorite).
Musée des Égouts - Despite the fact that Ashlae could hardly tolerate the stench, it was interesting to see how Paris’ sewer system came to be over the course of a few centuries.
Catacombes de Paris – Remarkable ossuary below the bustling streets of Paris.

Sleep
Our best stay of the trip (so far) was certainly our apartment in the Latin Quarter. We were provided with afternoon snacks, a well stocked fruit bowl, fresh apricot preserves, and a bottle of red wine. The apartment was small but incredibly efficient, and even had a beautiful courtyard view. It’s also worth noting that the shower had two heads with excellent water pressure – the more we travel, the more we realize a good shower is hard to come by in many places.

Run
If you’re a runner and unfamiliar with the city, I highly recommend bringing your mobile or some sort of device with GPS. Ashlae got lost during several of her runs – which doubled (sometimes tripled) the lengths and made for some pretty rough days.

Pretty housesIce cream truckBottlesUntitledPile o' cherries at the MarktDumon ChocolateThe CanalBeer at the oldest pub in Belgium!Belgian waffle with the worksChocolateRoom with a view2x fried

BRUGGE

If you can’t tell by the photos, we went to Brugge to stuff our faces with all of their best edibles; chocolate, waffles, 2x fried chips, and beer. The city is small and charming, but you don’t really need longer than two nights in the area, as you can see most (if not all) of the sights in just a few days. Eating out in Brugge is insanely expensive (€18+ at most places) and so we did a lot of takeaway (considerably cheaper) and grabbed some stuff from the market. Not to mention, we gorged ourselves on chocolate and waffles, so there wasn’t much room for “real food” while we were in Brugge.

Chocolate
Pralinette – The chocolate was rich and creamy, but a bit on the bitter side. I’m not usually a fan of bitter dark chocolate, but it was surprisingly tolerable.
Chocolate Oe Praline – I tried the dark chocolate bark with almonds. The chocolate was flavorful and creamy, but the bark was lacking in the almond department.
Depla Chocolateir – Second favorite chocolate shop; very rich (but not bitter) with light notes of vanilla. I love when you can actually taste the vanilla in chocolate. The dark chocolate covered hazelnut rows are not to be missed.
Chocolatier Dumon - Hands down, the best chocolate in Brugge, and the best chocolate Ashlae’s had in her entire life. It was rich and creamy, and melted almost instantly (which probably had more to do with the heat). Ashlae highly recommends the plain chocolate, as nuts and berries, or fancy fillings, only detract from the incredibly flavorful chocolate – but Thom says go for the truffles.
The Chocolate Line - This place was good, but had been talked up by locals and we didn’t find it nearly as delicious as some people claimed.

Waffles
Laurenzino – Apparently the best Belgian waffle you can get in Brugge – but Thom’s belly doesn’t agree. The waffles were heavy, as were the toppings. However, if you prefer your waffles on the dense side, this is your place.
Chez Albert – Despite Laurenzino being praised as having the best waffles in town, Thom preferred the waffles from Chez. They were light and airy, and easy to cut. And with the small, flimsy fork they provide, that’s a pretty important aspect.

Drink
De Garre – Tucked away down a narrow alley, this pub has loads character and a large selection of alcoholic beverages. But you should skip the fancy stuff and go straight for the Tripel.
Café Vlissinghe – The fact that it’s the oldest pub in Brugge is reason enough to not miss this place. They have a great patio, an adorable pup wandering the grounds, and local brews on tap. Get a postcard and send it to your favorite beer drinker.

Go
Hire bikes and ride around town (or to the coast, it’s only 18km away).
Take a canal tour, but make sure you arrive early – tours fill up quickly and waiting in line is no fun.

Sleep
We had a private room at the Lybeer Travellers’ Hostel and really enjoyed the facility. The spiral staircase is narrow and steep, so you may want to think twice about coming here with a large suitcase. They’re in the middle of a renovation, but that aside – the place was great. The common area was super funky and comfortable and the shower was clean and had great water pressure. Bonus: You get a free beer if you like them on Facebook!

Run
If you’re a runner, running along the canal will surely be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable runs of your life. Steer clear of the cobblestone streets because those aren’t exactly easy on the ol’ ankles.

Grand PlaceFlea Market Place du Jeu de BalleFlea Market Place du Jeu de BalleINVADERBrusselsCafé-Tasse chocolatesWall of condiments and alcoholFresh squeezed OJTextiles at YetiYeti CafeBelgian waffles in Brussels

BRUSSELS

We spent a mere four hours in Brussels, which was just enough for us. The city is pretty rough around the edges but has a handful of charming spots that shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area. We walked from the train station to the heart of town and wandered around the Grand Place, admiring what has been deemed one of Europe’s most beautiful squares. We then headed over to Café-Tasse to stock up on chocolate bars from one of Ashlae’s favorite chocolatiers (extra noir, alstublief). Before we skipped town, we brunched at Yeti then headed back to the Grand Palace area to get Thom one last real deal Belgian waffle from Le Funambule.