Countries & Cultures https://www.countriesandcultures.com/ Sharing my love for learning languages, studying cultures and discovering worlds outside my own little bubble :) Fri, 23 Aug 2019 21:07:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Favicon-1.png Countries & Cultures https://www.countriesandcultures.com/ 32 32 Restaurant Les Armures http://www.countriesandcultures.com/restaurant-les-armures/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=restaurant-les-armures http://www.countriesandcultures.com/restaurant-les-armures/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2019 00:30:58 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32744 The post Restaurant Les Armures appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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Restaurant Les Armures

RESTAURANT LES ARMURES
D

uring our time in Europe for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Lyon, France, we decided to take a day trip over to Geneva, Switzerland. Only an hour and a half drive it was a no brainer (especially considering we were beginning to lose our patience with the ever so kind French locals).

We were lucky enough to meet a local from Geneva in our hotel in France and she gave us quite a few recommendations for places to visit. Restaurant Les Armures was one such recommendation and we absolutely loved it!

Located in the Medieval area of Geneva, the setting of Restaurant Les Armures could not be more authentic. We ate on the patio surrounded by the towering walls of ancient stone and narrow passageways. Seated promptly, we drooled over the menu for several minutes before deciding on a crispy veal cutlet and fondue. Fun fact, Geneva is actually the birthplace of fondue (and I had never tried it before) so naturally we needed to order a pot.

The waiters as Restaurant Les Armures were kind and attentive (something we couldn’t say for any of our servers in France) and were helpful in recommending some of their best dishes. We almost never have dessert at home in the States, but when in Europe do as the Europeans….AKA espresso after EVERY meal and a wonderfully dairy-filled dessert after dinner.

Despite several incredibly tempting options at Restaurant Les Armures, we decided to go with a nice tiramisu and cappuccino. Everything we ate was absolutely delicious and I would highly recommend adding this restaurant to your list of must-visits in Geneva! All location information can be found to the right!

Restaurant Les Armures is technically a part of the Hotel Les Armures although you do not need to go through the hotel to access the restaurant. It can be accessed from the street Rue du Soleil-Levant. It should be easy to find as you will see the outdoor seating overlooking L’ancien arsenal, the outdoor display of vintage cannons and ancient mosaics.

Lastly, if you read the golden plaque hanging to the right of the entrance you will find a letter written by Bill Clinton remarking on how much he and Hillary enjoyed their meal at Restaurant Les Armures!

Rue du Soleil-Levant, 1204 Genève, Switzerland

+41.22.310.34 42

Monday – Friday: 9:30AM – 11:30PM

Saturday/Sunday: 11:00AM – 11:00PM

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  • English spoken
  • Reservation preferred but not required
  • Indoor/Outdoor seating
  • Cash and credit card accepted

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7 of the Best Brunch Spots in Orange County http://www.countriesandcultures.com/7-best-brunch-orange-county/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-best-brunch-orange-county http://www.countriesandcultures.com/7-best-brunch-orange-county/#respond Sat, 10 Nov 2018 04:28:47 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32371 The post 7 of the Best Brunch Spots in Orange County appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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7 of the Best Brunch Spots in Orange County

Best Brunch in Orange County
D

iscover some of my absolute favorite brunch spots in Orange County! Whether you are looking for quick and casual, high-end, beach views, each of these brunch locations will check something off your list and will, without a doubt, satisfy everyone’s palets.

1. Brunch at Restaurant Habana

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Locations:

Irvine – 708 Spectrum Center Dr, Irvine, CA 92618

Costa Mesa – 2930 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

  • Brunch Times:

Sundays 10:00AM – 3:00PM

Why I Love Brunch at Restaurant Habana:

First and foremost, there is nothing like the Habana brunch experience. Everything from the authenticity of the atmosphere to the quality and variety of the food offered is absolutely jaw-dropping. Themed after an old Cuban restaurant, you will find yourself transported into another world. Antique chandeliers, aged tables, black-and-white vintage tv’s playing old shows in the background. It is hard to find a more unique atmosphere than this in Orange County.

Best Brunch in Orange County

We haven’t even talked about the food yet. Did I mention it was a buffet? I know you are instantly picturing all the typical buffet food, but erase any preconceptions from your mind now because you are about to be blown away. All the food is displayed in an absolutely picture perfect manner. Incredible meats, salads, cheeses, pastries, etc all scattered over colorful, mismatched plates.

Best Brunch in Orange County

Traveler Tips:

  • You will almost definitely need a reservation for their weekend brunch because it has quickly become wildly popular. Try to book at least a full week in advance and check the availability at both locations.
  • Go slow and try EVERYTHING.
  • They also have fresh coconuts you can order and a fresh mimosa with brunch never hurt anyone.
  • I am a sucker for pastries and they have a huge variety. Try a few different ones with an authentic cup of coffee or rich latte.

2. Brunch at Ramos House Café

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Location:

San Juan Capistrano – 31752 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

  • Brunch Times:

Weekends 8:30AM – 3:00PM

Why I Love Bruch at Ramos House Café:

The Ramos House Cafe is a quaint little restaurant in the actual house of the owner and the ambiance couldn’t be cuter. I loved the feeling of eating my meal out in the courtyard of a home. Located on a popular side street in San Juan Capistrano, you can enjoy your brunch and watch as the other shoppers walk past to peak inside all the locally owned shops.

Best Brunch in Orange County

As if their location and history weren’t unique enough, they have one of the most creative and original brunch menus I have ever seen. With dishes like Huckleberry Coffee Cake, Basil Cured Salmon Lox and Gingerbread Crusted Duck Mac N’ Cheese, you will be eager to try just about everything available on their menu.

Traveler Tips:

  • This is one of those places you really want to sit and enjoy your time, the atmosphere and the food so plan a visit when you have time for a lazy meal.
  • They do not take reservations so try to get their early. If you have to wait, enjoy walking around the local shops for a few minutes!

3. Brunch at Moulin

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Location:

Laguna Beach – 248 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Newport Beach – 1000 Bristol St N St. 10, Newport Beach, CA 92660

  • Brunch Times:

Everyday 7:00AM – 8:00PM (no specific brunch menu)

Why I Love Brunch at Moulin:

Moulin doesn’t necessarily have a set brunch menu, but their breakfast and lunch options are all so delicious. Authentically French, the owner (a Frenchman himself), has made every effort to create a unique experience. All of the decorations have been brought over from France. Most of the workers are French and almost all of the Chef’s and Pastry Chef’s are French as well.

Best Brunch in Orange County

For food, you can choose from their menu of omelettes, crepes, sandwiches, panini’s, etc and/or make a selection from their unbelievable bakery. To make this place even cuter, they have a shop section where you can buy imported foods, wines, champagnes, candies, etc from France! I go here whenever I am needing a good European fix 🙂

Best Brunch in Orange County

Traveler Tips:

  • Moulin can get very busy around brunch time on the weekends. They do not take reservations so be ready to hunt for a table.
  • If you have a larger party, I definitely recommend visiting their Newport location. Their Laguna location is very small and better for parties of 4 or less.
  • Pick up some fun French candies and if you happen to run into the owner, he can give you some excellent wine recommendations.

4. Brunch at Anastasia Café

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Location:
Laguna Beach – 460 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
  • Brunch Times:

Everyday 8:00AM – 3:00PM (no specific brunch menu)

Why I Love Brunch at Anastasia Café:

Tiny, but unique, this Laguna Beach Cafe is unassumingly delicious. While not as flashy as some other locations, you will be surprised with just how mouth-watering their food tastes. Right in the heart of Laguna Beach, you can walk off your wonderful brunch wandering past all the adorable little shops. Or just head straight down to the beach! The walk isn’t more than 10 minutes.

Best Brunch Orange County

This location is also a smaller space so I would recommend groups of 4 or less. We managed to fit 6 of us, but we had to snag three different tables as they became available and took up a significant portion of the space.

Traveler Tips:

  • Seating is first-come-first-serve, so I would suggest while one person is ordering the others are looking for a table.
  • Parking outside is metered so you will need to pay either with coins or a credit card for parking.

5. Brunch at Café Gratitude

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Location:

Newport Beach: 1617 Westcliff Dr #112, Newport Beach, CA 92660

  • Brunch Times:

Weekends 8:00AM – 4:00PM

Why I Love Brunch at Café Gratitude:

Although you could never guess, Cafe Gratitude is 100% vegan! Oh and 100% organic and plant-based. Pretty much my favorite restaurant in all of Orange County. Enjoy unbelievably delicious vegan dishes like cinnamon rolls, quiche, nachos, pasta, etc.

Best Brunch in Orange County

Enjoy your ridiculously healthy brunch with the cool Newport Beach breeze blowing by. I love that all of the waiters and waitresses are so genuinely kind and enthusiastic. Also, all of their house-made drinks are to-die-for. Their ginger-ale, basil lemonade and matcha latte are must-trys.

Best Brunch in Orange County

Traveler Tips:

  • You can make reservations! Yaay!
  • Plenty of seating for larger groups.
  • Don’t let the fact that everything is vegan scare you away, honestly it it some of the best food I have ever had, period.

6. Brunch at Zinc Café

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Locations:

Laguna Beach – 350 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

3222 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

  • Brunch Times:

Everyday 7:00AM – 6:00PM

Why I Love Brunch at Zinc Café:

Zinc is a fun place to brunch for a more casual vibe, but still amazing food. Zinc is a completely vegetarian restaurant, but again, don’t let this scare you away. They still have plenty of delicious breakfast options like their avocado toast, egg dishes, pancakes, etc.

Best Brunch in Orange County

They also have a market section where you can choose to make a plate of food from the freshly made items available. Things like vegetable mixes, lasagna, salads, etc. Located in both Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach, both locations are within walking distance to the beach. The perfect place to go if you plan on spending the day at or near the beach.

Best Brunch in Orange County

Traveler Tips:

  • Both locations can be tricky when it comes to parking so be prepared to look for a spot for a few minutes.
  • Laguna Beach location is metered parking.
  • Best for groups of 6 or less.
  • Have one or two people order while the rest look for a table.
  • Their lavender latter is amaaaazing.

7. Brunch at The Loft

Best Brunch in Orange County
  • Locations:

Laguna Beach – 30801 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

  • Brunch Times:

Weekends 6:00AM – 10:00PM

Why I Love Brunch at The Loft:

Arguably the brunch location with the best view ever. The Loft is inside The Montage. A resort right on the cliffs of Laguna Beach. Although pricey, the quality of the food and service and the breathtaking views of the ocean will make it well worth it.

Best Brunch in Orange County

We have enjoyed our weekend brunch at The Loft many times and on multiple occasions have seen dolphins swimming by. I am still waiting to see an actual whale, but I am convinced it will happen eventually. I always recommend making a reservation, this way you can tell the valet workers when you arrive what the reservation name is under.

Best Brunch in Orange County

Traveler Tips:

  • The atmosphere would suggest a nicer outfit than a casual brunch elsewhere, but they aren’t going to refuse you service if you show up in something more casual.
  • Valet parking is $15 and a tip for the drivers is always a kind notion.
  • While the views from The Loft are beautiful, I also LOVE to sit and enjoy a beverage in the lobby before or after. The huge fireplace paired with the cool ocean breeze is just irresistible.

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Portola Coffee Roasters http://www.countriesandcultures.com/portola-coffee-roasters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=portola-coffee-roasters http://www.countriesandcultures.com/portola-coffee-roasters/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 19:27:31 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32349 The post Portola Coffee Roasters appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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Portola Coffee Roasters

Portola Coffee Roasters Orange County
I

t hit me last week that I haven’t yet written an article on Portola Coffee Roasters. Shocking, considering I am sipping on one of their vanilla soy lattes at least once or twice a week (if not more). I am in love with everything about this company, from their interior design, coffee (obviously), incredible ingredients, picture-perfect pastries, sophisticated brewing methods and genuinely enthusiastic staff.

Portola Coffee Roasters Orange County

Portola Coffee Roasters: The Coffee

Even without understanding all of the precision Portola Coffee Roasters operates under, upon your first taste of their coffee, you will know something magical is happening behind the scenes. If I had zero self-restraint (and an unlimited budget), I would be drinking their coffee everyday, multiple times a day.

Co-owners Jeff and Christa Duggan regularly roam the world searching for the highest quality beans available. Their commitment to what they call “At Origin” sourcing is an enormous testament to their perspective as business owners. I had to include this quote from their website beautifully describing how they value the farmers they work with:

Portola Coffee Roasters Orange County

“They [the farmers] are the foundation of what we consider to be the most important element of our company. This is very much a symbiotic relationship.  We rely on one another and we intend to uphold our end of the bargain with every coffee we purchase.  We have learned that quality-driven pricing is the key to sustainability.

It is our goal to reward those who commit to quality by paying a premium price for the coffee they produce.  We look for stewards of the environment and people who care about other people.  Sustainability is multi-faceted and we truly believe that good people do good things.  At Portola, those are the producers we want to do business with – and we do.”

Portola Coffee Roasters Orange County

I am no coffee connoisseur, but even I know that where the beans come from and how they are roasted are potentially the most important factors in creating an unmatched cup of coffee. The more I learn about coffee, the more I realize there are only two motivators behind starting a coffee shop: 1. To make money or 2. To celebrate a deep love for coffee and attempt to honor that love by producing the best coffee possible.

Which one motivates Portola Coffee Roasters is undeniable. I find myself as often as possible trying to support businesses, like Portola Coffee Roasters, who maintain such commendable values. How admirable is it that they look at their business first and foremost as a relationship? A relationship with their farmers, their ingredients, their employees and their customers.

Portola Coffee Roasters Orange County

Portola Coffee Roasters: The Atmosphere

Walking into any one of Portola Coffee Roaster’s locations, their passion and energy is something you can tangibly feel. Interacting with the baristas I don’t feel like customer 2,135 of the day…I feel like the customer they cannot wait to explain the latest coffee beans to or how all of their syrups are house-made or how their mocha is created from real Belgian chocolate.

Almost every time I visit I learn some new seemingly minuscule element about their operations that leaves me stunned by their intentionality. As someone who is a huge stickler for tiny details, I am in heaven feeling the precision that goes behind every aspect of Portola Coffee Roasters. Everything from the cups to the lighting to the painting on the walls feels thought-out and chosen for a specific reason. It is this incredible attention to detail that wraps me in comfort as I sip my coffee in one of their chairs and calls me back again and again.

Portola Coffee Roasters Orange County

Their commitment to quality rather than quantity is the cornerstone of their success. I was driven to share their story because Portola Coffee Roasters is so much more than just another coffee shop. They are creators, experimenters, investors, discoverers and their story inspires me to put quality first in everything I do.

Well…I’ve finished my vanilla soy latte and vegan pumpkin muffin (oh yeah, they have vegan and gluten-free options) so I guess it’s time to start my real job now….but, maybe after one more latte…

Mission Viejo

  • 27741 Crown Valley Parkway
    Mission Viejo, CA  92691

Costa Mesa

  • 3313 Hyland Ave, Suite B2
    Costa Mesa, CA  92626

Tustin

  • 2493 Park Ave
    Tustin, CA  92782

Santa Ana

  • 201 E. 4th Street, Space 103
    Santa Ana, CA  92701

Old Towne Orange

  • 143 N. Glassell St.
    Orange, CA 92886

Huntington Beach

  • 21058 Pacific Coast Highway, Space 170
    Huntington Beach, CA  92648
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  • Work friendly locations
  • Great for meetings
  • Incredibly friendly staff
  • Coffee beans available for purchase
  • Also have an amazing selection of teas!

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The 2 Best Shave-Ice in Kaua’i http://www.countriesandcultures.com/the-2-best-shave-ice-in-kauai/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-2-best-shave-ice-in-kauai http://www.countriesandcultures.com/the-2-best-shave-ice-in-kauai/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 16:36:19 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32308 The post The 2 Best Shave-Ice in Kaua’i appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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best shave-ice kaua'i

The Best Shave-Ice in Kaua'i

B

efore visiting Kaua’i I really had no idea just how good shave-ice could be. You all know what I mean…grains of ice that still need to be chewed and the huge puddle of food coloring and straight sugar left at the bottom of your cup.

Queue the magical island of Kaua’i and their cloud-like shave-ice. These are my two favorite shave-ice places we visited during our recent stay on Kaua’i and I could not have been more obsessed. I pretty much had shave-ice 5 days in a row and don’t regret it one bit.

Jojo's Shave-Ice

best shave-ice kaua'i

Location:

North Shore Location – 9734 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI 96796

South Shore Location – 5-5190 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714

Why I love Jojo’s Shave-Ice:

They have a huge list of flavors available. They have 34 flavors of syrups and they are all made in-house, are 100% organic and are made without corn syrup!

Their ice creams are house-made as well and I highly recommend the macadamia nut. Jojo’s is right in the heart of Hanalei with plenty of restaurants and shops surrounding it. Even better, you can walk to the beach in about 2 minutes from Jojo’s.

Traveler’s Tip:

My two favorite flavors are their #9 Ha Coffee and #16 Locals-North Shore and their coconut topping sauce is soooooo delicious. One of the workers recommended having coconut instead of pineapple in the Locals-North Shore with the macadamia nut ice cream. After recommending it I had it about 4 more times during our stay

Shave-Ice Tege Tege

best shave-ice kaua'i

Location:

South Shore Location – 4-1604 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746

Why I love Shave-Ice Tege Tege:

This adorable shave-ice shop has several locations. The one we visited was out of a food truck right on the beach. I love Tege Tege because its “Japanese Style” shave-ice. They had shave each shave-ice personally so yes, the process takes time, but it is soooo worth it. Their shave ice literally just melts in your mouth.

Their syrups are made from 100% organic fruits and they layer the shave-ice with the thick organic puree and condensed milk so you have this fruity and creamy mix. You also have the option of adding any of their home-made ice creams to your cup of shave-ice.

Traveler’s Tip:

Although Tege Tege is always worth a visit, wait times can get long (like 1 hour+) so try to get there as close to their opening times as possible!

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20 Travel Essentials I Always Pack http://www.countriesandcultures.com/20-essential-travel-products/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=20-essential-travel-products http://www.countriesandcultures.com/20-essential-travel-products/#comments Tue, 30 Oct 2018 19:41:43 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32232 The post 20 Travel Essentials I Always Pack appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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20 Travel Essentials I Always Pack

essential travel products

Travel Essentials - Packing

L

et me start by saying I am a total type A personality. If I could, I would be packing my bags a month in advance. Checking each item off my list as I lovingly place them in my suitcase gives me the sweetest satisfaction. For all those who agree, raise a virtual hand in the comments below lol. If you’re more the “wait until an hour before I have to leave for the airport to pack my bags” kind of person, well….I can’t comment….it’s giving me anxiety just imagining it.

But regardless of the kind of packer you are, I hope that this list of my travel essentials introduces you to some products you may not have thought to pack as well as some new products that you will absolutely love!

Note* I have not been paid or compensated in any way by any of the brands listed below. I will, however, make a small amount of commission if you purchase any of the products listed using my link. I only share products that I have used on many occasions and absolutely love. I will never share anything that I do not use myself.

essential travel products

1. Laundry Bag

Now yes, I know you can just throw a trash bag in your suitcase and be done with it. Personally, I like to have something a little sturdier to last throughout my whole trip and that holds the dirty clothes smell in better. Hence, my handy little travel laundry bag.

essential travel products

2. Wire Organizer

Honestly, one of my biggest pet peeves is having my charging wires and little electronics all over the place. This is perfect because you can fit all your charging wires, wall plugs, memory cards, headphones, etc.

essential travel products

3. Anti-Theft Backpack

This is probably one of my favorite purchases, ever. It’s the first bag I have ever purchased that really covers everything I could ever hope for in a travel bag: theft-prevention, huge amount of space, plenty of little pockets to store smaller items, external usb connection to charge electronics, extremely comfortable and looks super sleek and stylish!

**I wanted to note that there are a few knock-off versions of this backpack. We accidentally bought the knock-off version first and everything about it was poor quality.

Travel Essentials - Entertainment

essential travel products

4. Nura Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I’ve used several different brands of (expensive) noise-cancelling headphones and these are by far my favorite. I have such a hard time sleeping on a flight just from the engine noise and/or the crying baby three rows back. But these cancel out the sound almost entirely and are SO comfortable. As a plus, they come it a really sturdy case you can travel with and look super spiffy.

essential travel products

5. Skyroam Wifi

I could dedicate an entire post to this little guy because this was SUCH a life-saver. This is a wifi pack that works in almost every country and couldn’t be any easier.  There are different options for purchasing amounts of wifi, like by the GB or by every 24 hours. And multiple people can connect to the wifi at the same time. I simply carried the Skyroam in my bag and we all were connected to wifi for the entire trip no matter where we went! We still were conscious to turn off most of our data consuming services and even 1GB ($9.95) lasted 2 days for us. That’s basically $3.30 a day for wifi, not bad at all!

6. Books!

I always take a few books with me on my travels just to have something entertaining AND educational with me. I’ll be adding some of my favorite books to the site soon and will add the link here! 🙂

7. Podcasts

I loooove listening to podcasts and I always make sure to pre-download a few episodes from some of my favorite podcasts so I can listen to them on the airplane. A few of my favorite podcasts:

  • Armchair Expert
  • TedTalks
  • Ellen-on-the-Go

Travel Essentials -
Comfort

essential travel products

8. Microfiber Towel

This towel was so handy to have for multiple reasons:

  • It’s really thin and folds up so small so it’s easy to pack
  • Really absorbent – I was surprised just how well this dried me off considering how thin it is
  • Comes in multiple sizes (I bought the XX-Large one and it’s perfect!)
  • Dries really fast
  • Super soft (I actually use it on the plane as well as another blanket lol)
essential travel products

9. Accupressure Mat

I use this on a DAILY basis, even when I am not traveling. You can read more about all the benefits of accu-pressure mats through the link below. Essentially, it stimulates blood flow and helps muscles relax. I rave about this because it helps me so much when I am feeling sore or restless. Before laying down I set a timer for 20 minutes and every single time I end up falling asleep before the 20 minutes is up. It comes with a head pillow as well, which I use whenever I have headaches or neck pain.

Travel Essentials - Health & Hygiene

essential travel products

10. Hand Sanitizer

I love this hand sanitizer because it is plant-based and scented with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances! The bottles are about 2oz each so you can easily take them anywhere with you. There are a few different scents available, but this coconut lemon one is sooooo yummy.

essential travel products

11. Travel Tissue Packs

These guys are another huge life-saver. Other than the standard nose-blowing use, they are perfect to use as napkins at restaurants and on-the-go toilet paper! Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times I went into a bathroom and found myself stuck there without any toilet paper. And sometimes, you are expected to pay for toilet paper or tip the person who provides the toilet paper for you in the bathroom. I think I’ll stick with my own travel-sized TP.

essential travel products

12. Dr. Bronner’s Travel Soap

I am trying to move towards more natural products and this is one that I really like using. I really hate squeezing my larger soaps into those travel sized dispensers. It always ends up getting everywhere. These bottles are 4oz so they are perfect to pack for long or short trips.

essential travel products

13. Underarm Deodorant Wipes

Just like my accupressure mat, these wipes are something I use even when I’m not traveling. I have this thing where I forget to put deodorant on sometimes….I can’t tell you how many times these have saved me. When I’m traveling, I am usually out for the entire day and doing a lot of walking and I love having these to freshen up while I’m out. They come in a slim pack so they can fit in basically any bag, they’re vegan and naturally scented.

essential travel products

14. Chapstick

This is my all-time favorite chapstick (and trust me, I have tried MANY). I love that it is 100% organic, non-GMO and doesn’t have toxic chemicals. The peppermint scent is my favorite 🙂

essential travel products

15. DayQuil Tablets

Nothing upsets me more than when I get sick on a trip. Even though I don’t usually take medicine of any kind, when I’m traveling I always bring some DayQuil/NyQuil. These swallowable tablets are easy to pack and are really great at nipping a cold in the bud before it gets worse.

essential travel products

16. Airborne Tablets

When I’m traveling in Europe I am usually taking public transportation and I almost always get sick just from being in contact with so many germs my body isn’t used to. Every trip I have packed Airborne and taken on a daily basis I have never gotten sick! I know they have some chewable versions available, but I prefer the dissolvable tablets.

essential travel products

17. Cough Drops

I always get a sore throat on airplanes so these are crucial if I don’t want to be hating every minute of the 12+ hour plane ride to Europe. I am also really sensitive to smoke from cigarettes (which there is plenty of in Europe) so I carry these with me when I am walking around just in case.

essential travel products

18. Bandaids

I know it might seem a bit cheesy, but I always pack Bandaids. Because I am usually walking way more than I am accustomed to, I tend to get blisters. I’ve tried the blister specific bandaids, but they always end up falling off. These guys stay on way better.

essential travel products

19. Sinusalia

Even on the ground, I have allergy issues, but when I get in a confined airplane I can get the worst sinus congestion. Occasionally, the pillows and comforters in hotels will also really congest my sinuses and this natural relief helps me so much. I put a few tablets under my tongue just before bed. You can buy these at most stores like Target, WholeFoods, Walmart, etc.

essential travel products

20. Vagisil Wipes

Gentlemen…this may be TMI, but ladies, these wipes are so handy. We all know how annoying an itch in the wrong place can be, especially when you are out all day long. These guys provide immediate relief that lasts for hours. I always, always pack these no matter where I am going. I don’t always need them, but when I do I am so glad I have them.

If you have any questions about any of the products feel free to ask in the comments below or through any of my other social media! Thank you so much for reading and for using my links to make your purchase.

Again, I will NEVER recommend a product that I do not absolutely love myself. I hope you feel the same about some of these products and have found some useful information for your next trip!

Your support means so much and continually inspires me to keep writing and always improving my site and writing in whatever ways I can ?

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5 Must-Visit Beaches in Kaua’i http://www.countriesandcultures.com/5-must-visit-beaches-in-kauai/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-must-visit-beaches-in-kauai http://www.countriesandcultures.com/5-must-visit-beaches-in-kauai/#respond Wed, 24 Oct 2018 20:59:05 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32144 The post 5 Must-Visit Beaches in Kaua’i appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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5 Must-Visit Beaches in Kaua'i

beaches in kaua'i

1. Hanalei Bay (Waioli Beach)

beaches in kaua'i
Photo by Ariana Lindsey

Waioli Beach Highlights:

  • Large beach
  • Still feels secluded and surrounded by greenery
  • Great location for surfing
  • Perfect for long walks along the water
  • Great place to swim
  • Larger parking lot with street parking available as well
  • Restaurants, shops, cafes, shave ice, ice cream all within walking distance
  • Lifeguards on duty
  • Restrooms and a few picnic tables at entrance
beaches in kaua'i
Photo by Ariana Lindsey

Waioli Beach Description:

For the second half of our trip we rented a few houses just a 3 minute walk away from Hanalei Bay. Us girlies would wake up in the dark, take our freshly brewed Hawaiian coffee and walk down to the sand to watch the sunrise.

We swam at Waioli almost everyday we were in the rental houses. Of all the beaches we visited, this was the best one for swimming freely. There are no rocks or coral so you can swim without worrying about slicing your foot open or crashing into anything. I loved swimming out past the wave break and just floating there in the warm water.

beaches in kaua'i
Photo by Ariana Lindsey

We also took surfing lessons here, which was a blast! There are several companies in the area who offer surfing lessons and this beach is a great location. Usually the waves are between 1-3 feet so it is a pretty mellow location for beginners to try out surfing. And again, no rocks or coral so you can surf without worrying you’ll be bashed against some rocks.

Just remember that as with any beach in Kauai, when the tide is high and particularly rough, swim with caution and pay attention to any riptides that may be present.

Parking:

There is a decent sized (free) parking lot right at the entrance to the beach. It fills up pretty quick so the earlier you arrive the better. You are also able to park on the street in the surrounding neighborhoods so you should always be able to find parking.

beaches in kaua'i

Other Tips and Info:

  • Walk to lunch – Hanalei Bay is so close to a ton of restaurants, cafes and shops so you can easily walk the family into town for lunch or grab some ice creams or shave ice to take back to the beach!

2. Hideaway's (Secret) Beach

beaches in kaua'i

Hideaway’s Beach Highlights:

  • Beautiful clear water
  • Great place to snorkel when the tide is low
  • Difficult to access so there are not usually many people
  • Fun “mini” hike down to the beach
  • Stunning sunsets
beaches in kaua'i

Hideaway’s Beach Description:

I had marked this beach as a place I potentially wanted to check out during our trip to Kauai. While we were staying at the St. Regis, we realized that the entrance to Hideaway’s Beach was just a quick 2 minute walk from the hotel.

The “hike” itself isn’t much of a hike. Overall, it takes about 5-10 minutes to get down to the beach. There is just one tricky area that is quite steep and requires you to go a bit slower. But there are ropes tethered on either side so you have something sturdy to hold on to. The water below is absolutely gorgeous on a clear day.

While snorkeling we encountered plenty of sea turtles and other pretty fish! It is best to snorkel at low tide, however, because the higher tide stirs up the sand, lowering visibility AND you can be knocked into the coral by a wave.

Parking:

There is a tiny parking lot, which I have marked on the map, where you can park for free. By tiny I mean it fits about 6-7 cars. You are in luck however!

The St. Regis hotel, which you can literally see from the entrance to Hideaway’s Beach has complimentary valet parking (although a $5-10 tip for the drivers is a nice way of saying thank you)! You can drive up and leave your car with their valet for the day and easily walk back to the Hideaway’s Beach entrance.

beaches in kaua'i

Other Tips and Info:

  • Hike down can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on how easily you can go down the rope section.
  • Check your mobility – For those who may not have good balance/flexibility (AKA elderly or handicap persons) I would recommend going to a beach with easier access.
  • Get dropped off – Because the parking is so limited (even with the hotel valet parking), if you are staying in the area it is best to have someone drop you and your party off if possible.
  • Brings backpacks – Going down the rope section is easiest if you have both hands free.
  • NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

3. Queen's Bath

beaches in kaua'i

Queen’s Bath Highlights:

  • Adventurous and beautiful hike down
  • Incredible views of the volcanic rocks and the crashing waves
  • 2 waterfalls along the hike!
  • Unique swimming experience in the “bath” (only when the tide is very low!!)
  • Stunning surrounding scenery
beaches in kaua'i

Queen’s Bath Description:

So Queen’s Bath isn’t technically a beach. It is a “bath” that can be found when the tide is low, created by the unique configuration of the volcanic rocks. Let me start by saying this is absolutely my favorite place we went to on the whole island. It is also the most dangerous. The rocks go right up against the crashing waves and at high tide it can be extremely dangerous to walk near the edge of the rocks and impossible to swim in the bath.

When the tide is high the bath itself is almost invisible and can be hard to find. Many people have died swimming in the bath at high tide. The waves crash into the bath and then suck the swimmers out to sea.

Even if you are swimming here at low tide, be very aware of the tide times and if you notice the waves are starting to come into the bath higher and higher it is probably time to leave. DO NOT try to swim in the bath when the tide is high or even the slightest bit rough.

The hike down can be a bit dangerous as well, especially on a rainy day. It can become insanely muddy and slippery if it has rained recently. Just like Hideaway’s beach, I wouldn’t recommend taking the elderly or physically handicapped guests down this hike. Even on a dry day you can easily trip on a root, fall off the trail, etc.

But even with all of that danger, I would still recommend making an effort to check out this location. The hike, while tedious, is absolutely breathtaking. You will want to go slow just to take in the wild nature around you and the two beautiful waterfalls you will pass along the way.

Parking:

Pretty much everything about Queen’s Bath is tricky. There is a parking lot at the entrance  (marked on the map) to Queen’s bath, but it only fits about 10-15 cars and parking on the street will quickly have you towed. If all the spots are full you will have to wait until someone already parked leaves to take their spot.

Other Tips and Info:

  • Hike down can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the trail conditions
  • Wear hiking shoes or water shoes – especially when its rainy, you will want shoes with good grip and ones that you don’t mind getting covered in mud.
  • Bring a backpack – you will want to have both hands free during the hike down to maintain balance and catch yourself if you fall; definitely no ice chests or heavy items on this journey
  • Goggles – the bath itself is pretty small, but fish can be washed in with the waves to it may be fun to take a look around, but mostly its fun to just swim in the calm water
  • Agile persons only – this hike especially, you don’t want to bring along those who may have balance issues, fall easily, aren’t very flexible, etc.
  • Parking – have someone drop you off if possible; otherwise, you can park your car at the St. Regis valet and walk about 20-30 minutes to Queen’s Bath.
  • TIDES – you must check the tide schedule before visiting; I do NOT recommend visiting at high tide.
  • NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

4. Poipu Beach

beaches in kaua'i

Poipu Beach Highlights:

  • Perfect location for snorkeling
  • Great place to take kids
  • Lifeguards on duty
  • Easy parking
  • Picnic tables and restrooms
  • A few restaurants close by
  • Resident seal you can say hi to
  • Close to restaurants, shops, etc
beaches in kaua'i

Poipu Beach Description:

Although definitely a big tourist spot, this beach is still a great option because of it’s accessibility and setup. There is a fair amount of coral so you can see plenty of fish and the occasional sea turtle. On the left-side of the beach there is a very shallow area without rocks that is perfect for young children to play in the water.

Young or old, you will all want to say hi to the resident seal at Poipu Beach. There is an area taped off for the seal when he is on land to keep people at a distance. Remember, they are still wild animals that can be vicious when harassed.

With a large parking lot right behind the beach, you can easily bring the family and all that beach gear. You will also find a few restaurants within walking or driving distance.

beaches in kaua'i

Parking:

There are two very large, free parking lots just before the beach so you should be able to find a spot easily. Especially if you go earlier in the morning (before 11am). From the parking lots you can quickly and easily walk to the beach so feel free to bring as many chairs, umbrellas, ice chests and kid’s beach toys as you can handle.

Other Tips and Info:

  • Wildlife – seals and turtles will occasionally come up on shore. While they are fun to look at, for your safety and theirs please do not touch them or let your children touch them!

5. Shipwreck's Beach

beaches in kaua'i

Shipwreck’s Beach Highlights:

  • Large beach
  • Easy to access
  • Rustic surrounding
  • Huge cliff jumping!

Shipwreck’s Description:

Having heard this was a spot for cliff jumping, and with about 10 guys with us on the trip, we naturally had to stop and check it out. As promised, there is an incredibly high cliff over the water great for cliff jumping. The cliff itself is about 40-50 feet high depending on the tide.

I personally did not jump, but several people in my party did and many other visitors as well. I would suggest hiking to the top and asking if any others have already jumped within the last 10 minutes or so. If there is no one around or no one who has jumped yet, definitely send someone out swimming to check the water depth and the surrounding area for any hazards.

beaches in kaua'i

This is a pretty high cliff jump so if it is your first time make sure you understand the proper cliff jumping form and when in doubt, don’t jump. A girl in her early 20’s, who was very hesitant, ended up jumping. She landed with her legs bent and ended up with a huge bruise all over her legs because of the impact of hitting the water from so high.

Parking:

There is a free parking lot right at the entrance to the beach with a fair amount of space. If it is full you may be able to park in the surrounding dirt road, but always check for no parking signs.

beaches in kaua'i

Other Tips and Info:

  • Rough Tide – strong currents and big waves can make swimming difficult and dangerous.
  • Cliff Jumping – if you are going to cliff jump, again, be sure that someone has checked the area below first. Second, you need to be a good swimmer because after jumping off the cliff you have a decent swim back to shore. Be aware of any riptides and NEVER jump without someone else in the area to be sure you are safe.
  • NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

If you have any other questions about these beaches feel free to comment below and I will respond with as much information as I can 🙂

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Pudding Café – Barcelona, Spain http://www.countriesandcultures.com/pudding-cafe-barcelona-spain/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pudding-cafe-barcelona-spain http://www.countriesandcultures.com/pudding-cafe-barcelona-spain/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 00:41:21 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32053 The post Pudding Café – Barcelona, Spain appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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Pudding Café - Barcelona, Spain

Pudding Café Barcelona Spain

***For detailed map location, website link, phone number, etc look to the right of this article or, if you are on a mobile device, scroll below!***

About Pudding Café

My best friend introduced me to Pudding Café the first time we visited Barcelona together. She had spent a semester studying abroad in Barcelona and said she visited Pudding Café almost every morning before class.

On our second trip to Barcelona, we were surprised to discover that Pudding Café had opened a second location. This one, even more magical than the first. No literally, the entire café is styled after Harry Potter and it could not be more enchanting.

Passing through the unassuming doors of the entrance to Pudding Café you are transported into the world of Harry Potter. With old books and scrolls lining the walls, and robes stacked neatly on the shelves.

Each of the antique tables and chairs looks as though they had years of stories to tell. The low lit lights lure you into the calmness and magic, making you feel as if you were sitting in the actual Griffindor common room at Hogwarts.

I almost felt like I needed to pull out my ink and quill and start working on my potions homework! The dedication to creating a unique and believable atmosphere is clear. There does not seem to be an inch of space forgotten in the decoration of Pudding Café.

The pastries, menu and espresso at Pudding Café are all equal to the extraordinary décor. I wish we could have stayed their a full week just so I could have breakfast there every single morning.

I can’t even imagine how enchanting it is during the Fall/Winter seasons with the sound of the rain outside. Gently playing a melody as you lounge in a cozy chair with the warmth of the lights and comfort of the aged books surrounding you.

Pudding Café Food Highlights

  • Café con leche (honestly the espresso is so rich and yummy)
  • BUTTERBEER – yes, they have butterbeer folks, now are you convinced you need to go?
  • Goat cheese and pesto bocadillo (photo below; I got this the first time we went and oh my Lord it was soooo good)
  • Tortilla (a typical Spanish dish, but Pudding Café serves up one of the fluffiest most delicious tortillas I have ever had in Spain)

The first Pudding Café is designed after Alice in Wonderland and is just as authentic and believable. You can find all of their location information to the right or if you are on mobile keep scrolling below!

Avinguda Diagonal, 515, 08029 Barcelona, Spain

+34.937.68.98.84

Sunday – Thursday: 9:00AM – 9:00PM

Friday/Saturday: 9:00AM – 10:00PM

pp
  • Credit Cards accepted
  • English Spoken

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Chök – Barcelona, Spain http://www.countriesandcultures.com/chok-barcelona-spain/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chok-barcelona-spain http://www.countriesandcultures.com/chok-barcelona-spain/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 02:42:21 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=32022 The post Chök – Barcelona, Spain appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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Chök Chocolate Kitchen
Barcelona, Spain

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain
T

here really is no better feeling than when you accidentally stumble across an adorable little boutique or café while exploring a new city. It’s almost like a surprise present you had no idea was coming and without hesitation you rush inside to discover what new gem you just happened to walk past. Chök Chocolate Kitchen in Barcelona was one of these irresistible sidewalk discoveries.

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain
Chök Piruchok

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against researching some fun places you definitely want to check out, hey, that’s what this blog post is supposed to be isn’t it? And as much as I love researching some cute places and then going to them in person, it’s the stores and cafes I had no idea existed before I randomly walked past that are the most exciting to uncover.

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain
Chök Dessert Bar

As we were riding our freshly rented, about-to-break-down bikes we whizzed right past this tiny little shop with brightly colored donuts hanging on little pegs all over the wall. Honestly, we probably almost caused an accident we stopped so fast in front of that Chök  window. Like wide-eyed children in front of a colorful candy shop we couldn’t peel ourselves away.

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain
Chök Cookies

But we did have a schedule we needed to stick to so we marked the location on our calendars. I pretty much had that place in the back of my head for the next 2 hours until our bike rentals were done and without hesitation we practically went sprinting down the streets to find Chök.

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain
Chök Kronut - The Croissant Donut

Chök’s signature is what they call a Kronut – a donut made out of a croissant. And ohhhh my do they look absolutely delicious. Expertly decorated, their Kronuts are as beautifully decorated as they are delicious I’m sure. I’m kicking myself for not getting one, but I knew I could only handle about two bites before the sugar overload hit me.

While the Chök kronut is pretty much the star of the show, they have a long glass case filled with plenty of other delicious and adorable little treats. Cakes, cookies dipped in chocolate, nut clusters, brownies, fudge……

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain
Chök Kronuts and Churros

After drooling over all their colorful desserts we decided to go with a few of their truffles. I always have to get a raspberry truffle if there is one, just to compare, and I honestly think Chök’s raspberry truffle was the best I have ever had. Chök provides plenty of opportunity for seduction with their many other truffle flavors like tiramisu, coffee, oreo, etc.

What I really loved is that they have a seating area, albeit a small one, where you can sit and enjoy a coffee with your dessert and even watch as they make some of the desserts right through the window.

I’m still dreaming about their raspberry truffle and without a doubt they have made it onto my list of must-go places for the next time I return to Barcelona ?

Chök Chocolate Kitchen Barcelona Spain

If you enjoyed the article click the heart at the top right of the page and share! I love to hear back from you guys so comment below! Even if it is just to say hi, your feedback and engagement is so encouraging! Unless otherwise noted, all photos and content have been taken and written by myself.

Chök has 5 locations in Barcelona:

Calle del Carme, 3, 08001, Barcelona

  • t: +34 933 042 360
  • Monday – Sunday
    9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Calle Ramelleres, 26, 08001, Barcelona

  • t: +34 936 817 849
  • Monday – Sunday
    9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Calle Astúries, 93, 08024, Barcelona

  • t: +34 933 487 616
  • Monday to Sunday
    9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

C.C. Glories, Avenida Diagonal, 208, 08018, Barcelona

  • t: +34 938 588 998
  • Monday to Saturday
    9:30am – 10:00pm

El Corte Inglés – Plaça de Catalunya, 14, 08002, Barcelona

  • t: +34 933 019 878
  • Monday to Sunday
    9:00 am – 10:00 pm
pp
  • English spoken
  • Cash and credit card accepted
  • Seating available in most locations

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Mür Café, Madrid, Spain http://www.countriesandcultures.com/mur-cafe-madrid-spain/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mur-cafe-madrid-spain http://www.countriesandcultures.com/mur-cafe-madrid-spain/#respond Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:33:55 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=31991 The post Mür Café, Madrid, Spain appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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Mür Café, Madrid, Spain

Mür Café Madrid Spain espresso coffee
I

I am proud of many of the things I accomplished during my year living abroad in Madrid: I learned how to read, write and speak in Spanish, I navigated the extensive metro and bus system, I avoided getting pick-pocketed…..but without a doubt what I am most proud of was my unyielding dedication to tracking down the absolute best coffee in the city. And in comes Mür Café.

I had to drink A LOT of espressos, cappuccinos and café con leche’s to narrow the list down, but ohhhh man was it worth it. Plus, even the worst coffee in Spain is still better than pretty much anything you can find in the states (minus a few places like Kean Coffee and Communal Coffee).

Madrid has an abundance of charming and unique coffee shops, but sadly, interior décor really has no relation to the quality of the coffee. You’ll find pristine, modern cafes with incredibly average coffee. On the other hand, you’ll walk past a hole in the wall (literally) that looks like it might be a cave from our prehistoric ancestors and find yourself sipping on one of the smoothest, creamiest, fluffiest cappuccinos you have ever had the honor of lapping between your lips.

Mür Café is a bit of a hybrid between the two. Situated just up the street from Plaza España Mür Café rests quite inconspicuously. Just enough off the beaten path that most tourists will never happen upon it, but close enough that you could easily pop by for a quick coffee and snack while you are site seeing in the areas nearby.

Mür Café Madrid Spain espresso coffee
Can you find the Mür Café sign??

From the outside, Mür Café hides underneath its unassuming outer décor. A tiny sign hangs over the entrance, so small I actually walked right past the door several times before I realized where the entrance actually was. The outer courtyard hosts a collage of mismatched tables encircled by large trees and historic statues that have, sadly, been marked with hints of graffiti. The discreet entrance to Mür Café might leave a passerby curious as to what shop the tables could possibly belonged to.

Although the exterior of Mür Café left me hesitant to enter, I stepped through the stone-lined doorway and am writing this post as a result 🙂 As unassuming as the outside of Mür Café is, the inside is like walking into a cozy stone cottage. Cozy chairs and antique tables are scattered throughout. Upstairs awaits several couches who are just beckoning you to come sink into them and dangling lights hang twinkling above your head.

If you are really lucky, you might find a seat at one of the little tables in front of the ancient windows overlooking the courtyard. Honestly, there are few things I love more than drinking a perfect coffee while sitting in an antique chair and looking out through an adorable window onto the scenery beyond. Whenever I could find a window seat in a café in Madrid you can bet I was making a beeline for it.

After discovering Mür Café and falling under their intoxicating enchantment I had a hard time giving my other favorite coffee shops a fair amount of attention. I think I understand now when mothers explain how hard it is to not neglect the other children after having a newborn child….

Did I just compare coffee shops to newborn babies? Yes, I realize that the love for good espresso may not be on the same exact level of the love for a real live human baby, but, honestly, its pretty darn close.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the magical Mür Café and if you ever decide to visit I would love to hear about your experience! You can find a few more specific details about the café below and all the location information (map, hours, phone number, etc)  just to the right or on mobile keep scrolling below 🙂

Other Details of Mür Café

  1. Mür Café officially describes itself as a café and cocktail bar. They have a deliciously unique menu and extensive list of teas, coffees and cocktails. Their selection of exceptional toasts are by far my favorite (I list a couple below)
  2. They have a full brunch menu on weekends that I have always wanted to try but never actually got around to. I have read the brunch menu however and can say it looks like a bountiful amount of delicious food.
  3. If you are just popping in for a coffee and snack Mür Café offers the general assortment of pastries as well as some very tempting cakes.
  4. They have soy milk!

My FAVORITES from Mür Café

  1. Café con leche (coffee with milk, the standard Spanish coffee drink)
  2. Tostada con queso de cabra, mermelada de higos, y piñones (toast with goat cheese, fig jam, and nuts)
  3. Tostada con salmón con queso crema, aderezo de mostaza y miel (toast with salmon, cream cheese, mustard and honey)

If you enjoyed the article click the heart at the top right of the page and share! I love to hear back from you guys so comment below! Even if it is just to say hi, your feedback and engagement is so encouraging! Unless otherwise noted, all photos and content have been taken and written by myself.

Mür Café Madrid Spain espresso coffee

Plaza Cristino Martos, 2, 28015 Madrid, Spain

+34.911.39.98.09

Monday-Thursday: 9:00AM – 11:00PM

Friday: 9:00AM – 2:00AM

Saturday: 10:00AM – 2:00AM

Sunday: 11:00AM – 10:00PM

pp

Accept credit cards

Most employees speak English

Soy milk available

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The Evolution of Blogging http://www.countriesandcultures.com/the-evolution-of-blogging/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-evolution-of-blogging http://www.countriesandcultures.com/the-evolution-of-blogging/#comments Sun, 22 Jul 2018 01:32:30 +0000 http://www.countriesandcultures.com/?p=31942 The post The Evolution of Blogging appeared first on Countries & Cultures.

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The Evolution of Blogging

blogging blog travel blogger leigh ann
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he idea of blogging was born out of the desire to share authentic experiences with others. Travelers would post their raw, imperfect photos and write about their adventures. They didn’t have a million photo filters to edit their pictures or unbelievable drone footage. Blog posts were filled with words and if there were any photos, they were of more than just themselves and their food in iconic locations.

As blogging has gained popularity (and monetary value), more and more people have sought the title “blogger”. As someone who is and has always been incredibly passionate about writing, there are several aspects of this “Blogging Era” that leave me more than a little perturbed…

Now, I have to clarify that when I refer to “bloggers” I am specifically focusing on those who refer to themselves as travel bloggers. Here are my questions and challenges for you (and of course myself).

blogging blog travel blogger leigh ann

What Frustrates me About “Blogging” Today:

  1. Posts share very little useful/applicable information
  2. Too many photos, not enough written content
  3. Photos don’t capture realistic experiences
  4. Posts have little if any insightful/thought provoking comments

Travel bloggers…what happened to all the relevant and applicable information?? What happened to the story? I search for three things in blog posts: 1. logistical information related to the adventure so I can experience it myself, 2. storytelling that draws me into the moment and makes it feel real and 3. thought-provoking insight that challenges me to consider new ideas.

I love a stunning picture of some remote beach or mouth-watering food or your exotic experience swimming with sharks…..and while these photos have me picking my jaw up off the floor, they also leave me with about 1,000 questions, none of which are answered.

How did you get to that gorgeous beach? Did you hike, take a sketchy bus ride, ride up the mountain on a llama?? Is there anything extra I should bring with me? Where was the restaurant with that amazing food? How much did it cost? Did they speak English? How did you book your shark swimming extravaganza? Is it something I need to book far in advance? How much does it cost??

blogging blog travel blogger leigh ann

If anyone else can relate here pleeeease let me know. I can see pretty pictures all day on Instagram, but when I go to someone’s website, I want to discover the stories behind the photos! Can the author transport me into the moment with their storytelling? Can their words make me feel as though I am walking down the foreign streets right next to them, can they bring the sites and smells and flavors to life?? These are the posts I am desperate to read and am dying to write myself.

Not only is there no logistical content telling me where and how I can do what they did, but there is also no cultural or insightful information.

I crave posts that cause me to pause and think about a topic for longer than 2 seconds. A post that is thought-provoking, challenges me to look at something from a diverse perspective. A post that makes me look at myself differently, look at the world differently. There is so much we can learn from each other when we take the time to share it. Each of us has a unique set of experiences, backgrounds, religions, world views that all come together to give us our unique perspective of the world. Each of us could have the seemingly same experience and come away with completely different thoughts and insights.

blogging blog travel blogger leigh ann

Technology has created a global web of connectivity where we are able to interact with people from every culture. This is access to so many different minds around the world is something that can be used to share so much more than just pretty images.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I get when I am scrolling through a blog post and it feels more like I’m scrolling through their Instagram feed. There are 100 pictures and almost no words to explain or describe anything.

I’m calling myself out as much as anyone here because even I feel that pull to add as many beautiful photos to a post as possible. There is this part of me that feels like if I don’t have photos scattered all throughout my blog posts then people won’t continue reading. As if the photos are the only thing worth giving any time to! And let’s be honest, often times they are. When the writing is poor (or even non-existent) why would anyone spend their time reading through it?

To be fair, I would argue that the appreciation for reading has decreased significantly in this new age of technology. More often than not, we seek something that will allow us to turn off the wheels turning in our head and put our brains on autopilot. Okay, if I get on this topic I could go on for days so I’m going to real myself and avoid that bunny trail for now. But essentially, I wanted to note that even when blogs do provide quality written content, it can be hard to find the right target audience who will value it.

blogging blog travel blogger leigh ann

So, my challenge for you and for myself is can we refocus our energy on sharing more than just the images of our most coveted moments? Can we create a community where each of our personal experiences can be used as a means of broadening all of our world views?

We can use this powerful tool called the internet for so much more than just momentary stimulation from photos. Yes, we can and should include our amazing images and videos in our content, but what I really want to know is what did that trip teach you? How did it change you? How can I learn from your experiences and how can I teach others from mine?

This is my ultimate goal as a writer. I want what I share to bring tangible value to the lives of others and I challenge you to question how you can do the same.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this topic. As a writer, what has your experience been in the blogging world? And as a reader what kind of content are you searching for?

If you enjoyed the article click the heart at the top right of the page and share! I love to hear back from you guys so comment below! Even if it is just to say hi, your feedback and engagement is so encouraging! Unless otherwise noted, all photos and content have been taken and written by myself.

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