Brasov, Romania

We booked an apartment on the edge of the city center via Booking.com. The price was right and the apartment was well furnished. Also, the location for parking was perfect. When we were looking to book a hotel, all of the hotels stated that parking was included but then when you would read reviews it was not explained very well that the parking available is actually public parking. When you’re in the very the middle of the city center, you must pay for parking. This is difficult because the parking meter machines only take coins which are very difficult to get your hands on. You can pay by SMS but only if you have a Romanian cell phone number. What we found was there if you park on the edge of the city center, parking is 100% free but finding a spot is difficult. If you are on a block with no parking signs or parking meters, then it is free.

We sent three nights in Brasov and while you could definitely see the highlights of the historic center in one day, it was nice to have the extra time to hike around the city walls and see all that the city has to offer.  Due to bad weather, we did not have an opportunity to hike up to the famous Brasov town sign but we did get some time walking around the trails in some of the parks on the edge of the city.

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The majority of our time in Brasov was spent wandering around the town and eating. While most of the restaurants we visited were in the center of town, they didn’t feel like tourist traps. Our favorites were Pilvax, La Ceaun, and Vino e Sapori. For drinks we frequented Cafe Central which had cheaper drinks than some of the bars closer to the center of town.

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Brasov, Romania

John o’ Groats, Scotland

We stayed in a collection of pre-fabricated, albeit poshly decorated, holiday rentals right in John O Groats. Natural Retreats has a great location right near the coast, though their website makes it seem like there are far less of these rentals than in reality. This means some of the rentals don’t have the best of views but being so close to the water was a perk nonetheless. The rental was $58USD per person per night and though that is a little higher than my average nightly budget, it was a lovely apartment with everything we needed.

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Sunset on holiday rentals at John o’ Groat.
There isn’t much in John o’ Groats other than tourist shops (knicknacks, a coffee shop, and a fish n’ chips shack), but the scenery was lovely and it’s a great base to explore the area from. There is also a ferry dock within walking distance that can take you to the Orkney Islands. There are a handful of ferry ports near John o Groats so make sure to pick the one that fits your needs and schedule best.
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We visited Skara Brae while on the Orkney Islands. Note the beach in the background. This place is stunning in so many ways.
While at the top of the Scottish mainland, we toured the Queen Mum’s castle, sampled some local gin at Rock Rose distillery, and chatted up the locals at the Seaview Hotel bar.
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We sampled some tasty gins and one vodka at Rock Rose distillery.

 

John o’ Groats, Scotland

Lancaster, PA

When a friend told me that she’d decided to have her wedding in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I was skeptical about the choice. When she followed it up with the fact that the town has a brewery and a distillery, I was intrigued. When I arrived for the long weekend, I was excited. Lancaster is full of great restaurants and bars, a plethora of art galleries, and a central market that makes your feel like you’re in Europe.

We rented a private ensuite room through Airbnb.com from a lively woman named Bobbie. Her place is about a 15 minute walk from downtown, but there are restaurants and a few shops close by. Downtown has a lot to offer and didn’t have the touristy feel of some other quaint, historic towns on the East coast.

Between wedding duties and events, we explored. We found the pop-up park with food trucks, the Spring House Brewery, and the slightly hidden combined location of the Thistle Finch Distillery and Wacker Brewery.

This is the drink list from Thistle Finch Distillery.
This is the drink list from Thistle Finch Distillery.

We grabbed drinks at Annie Bailey’s, an Irish pub with live music on Saturdays. We also popped into Tellus360 (next door to Annie Bailey’s) for some food and more drinks. The food wasn’t inspiring but the drink list was extensive (including many whiskey flight options and local cold-pressed juice cocktails). What makes Tellus360 a great spot is their set-up. The space is four floors plus a rooftop area. They have ping pong tables, dart boards, and a pool table to keep you entertained.

We also had dinner at Aussie and the Fox and were impressed with the delicious food. For about $20 a person (without drinks), we shared a handful of starters, and left full and happy. We also heard rave reviews about the restaurant Pour, though we didn’t make it there ourselves.

We didn’t have a car in Lancaster, which wasn’t much of a problem. We walked just about everywhere and called Uber the few times we needed a ride. If you plan to take time to explore the surrounding area, having a car would be necessary.

While we were sad to leave this picturesque town after an amazing weekend of food, booze, and friends, I would definitely come back for the hospitality, history, and all-around relaxing atmosphere.

My husband and I dragged ourselves to the Amtrak station to make the journey back to the Phily airport. We grabbed one way Amtrak tickets to Philadelphia for about $19 each and then transferred at 30th Street Station to the SEPTA regional rail to the airport for another $8 each. From beginning to end, the trip took about 2 hours.

Lancaster, PA

Essential phrases to learn in another language

With traveling comes the responsibility of making a good impression on the countries you visit. And one way of doing this is learning other languages. Here is a list of words and phrases that I have found helpful to know while traveling. A little goes a long way. Plus, knowing some basic words and phrases might help you feel comfortable in a new place.

I would like…
Can you help me
Can you write down the price
Yes/No
Hello/Goodbye
Please/Thank you
I’m sorry/Excuse me
That is okay/good
Where is the toilet/WC (this is totally different than a bathroom in most countries)
Do you speak English?
You should also know the number for how many people in your party so you can ask for a table for four, a room for two, etc.
Essential phrases to learn in another language