Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris

Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris
Relax with a glass of wine at Cafe Marly overlooking the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Madrid Tapas Walk

Our tapas walk begins at the Plaza Santa Ana. This pleasant square is located in one of Madrid’s oldest neighborhoods. This is where many Madrileños congregate on weekend evenings. In addition to the Teatro Español, the square is also home to the stately Hotel Reina Victoria, which has been recently renovated.

On the south side of the square are three places you can visit.

At number 6 is Cervecería Alemana, the best of the many tapas bars on the square, which was built in 1904 and modeled after a German beer hall (Alemana means “German” in Spanish). Have a beer. It’ll be served in a white stein. Ernest Hemingway drank here, but that’s really no big deal since he drank all over Madrid. Why don’t you order aceitunas (olives), a popular snack? You’ll be eating more later.

Another beer hall here is Cervecería Santa Ana at number 10. Here you can have a plate of jamón y queso (cured ham and cheese).

Another tapas spot here is La Moderna at number 12. Try a glass of delicious Spanish wine and a cheese plate, for which this place is known.

From the south side of the square, head across the square to the north side and turn right onto Calle de Manuel Fernández y González.

At number 7 is the popular bar Viva Madrid. It has fantastic tiled walls and an incredible carved ceiling. You come here to drink and, if you do stop, it’s likely that the crowd will be young and lively.

Keep moving, eating and drinking! With Viva Madrid to your back, head left down Calle de Manuel Fernández y González. You’ll pass Calle de Echegaray. The next street is Calle Ventura de la Vega. On the corner at 10-17 Calle de Manuel Fernández y González is our final stop.

At the tile bar Taberna Toscana, you’ll sit on stools and taste a wide selection of tapas under sausages hanging from the ceiling. Try the fantastic ternera (veal) dish swimming in a delicious sauce (with french fries). A specialty here (if you’re up to it) is morcilla (blood sausage). Try it. It’s an interesting choice. When in Spain…

For a map and more about tapas in Madrid, check out Open Road's Best of Spain by Andy Herbach.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Famous gourmet food store: Milan's "Peck"

Peck ( is Milan's famous gourmet food store. There's a huge wine cellar and the food store offers pasta and sauces, ham and cheeses, truffles and mushrooms, pasta and sauces, and oil and vinegar. You can sample these Italian specialties at the (usually crowded) stand-up bar. For more information on dining in Milan, check out "Eating & Drinking in Italy: Italian Menu Reader and Restaurant Guide."

Around the corner at 4 Via Victor Hugo is the renowned Cracco-Peck restaurant featuring a superb tasting menu. The prices at the restaurant may shock you, so you might want to try the less expensive wine bar nearby at 3 Via Cesare Cantu).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Best of Provence: Lourmarin

Lourmarin’s winding narrow streets are lined with stone houses painted in shades of ochre and beige. It has a Renaissance chapel and both Catholic and Protestant churches. The village lies at the foot of the Luberon Mountain range which is covered with pine and oak trees. Surrounding the village are olive groves and vineyards. Although French vacationers discovered this little village years ago, it’s now popular with foreign tourists. Its renovated château is the site of frequent concerts and exhibits. Visitors have quite a few cafés and restaurants to choose from, and it’s become the gastronomic capital of the area. It’s a lovely town with much to offer, and a great base for touring some of the prettiest towns of Provence. For more on Lourmarin, check out Open Road's Best of Provence and the French Riviera by Andy Herbach

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring is here, at least in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Tulip Days debuts on April 24. It's an effort to turn the entire city into a tulip garden. Bulbs have been planted in the gardens of museums, outside downtown buildings and at private homes. Many of these gardens are usually not accessible to the public. The project is a joint effort on the part of the Museum Van Loon, the International Flower Bulb Centre, the Tulip Museum, the city, and the Amsterdam Tourist and Convention Board. And, we'll be there to take it all in!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Top Sights of Amsterdam

Here are our top sights of Amsterdam. What are yours?

Canals: From the Singel to the Prinsengracht, Amsterdam’s canals and the Golden Age homes that line them make Amsterdam a unique destination.

Begijnhof: The courtyard of this 14th-century hofje (almshouse) is a peaceful getaway from the bustling city.

Anne Frankhuis: Anne Frank’s hiding place, where she penned her famous diary, comes to life in this poignant museum.

Rijksmuseum: The Royal Museum is one of the world’s greatest art museums with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and countless others.

van Gogh Museum: A study of not only van Gogh’s art, but also his fascinating life.

Amsterdams Historisch Museum: Follow the history of Amsterdam from fishing village to modern metropolis.

Red-Light District: The oldest profession in the world sells itself (legally) in a new type of window-shopping.

Museum Amstelkring: Gorgeous clandestine church in, of all places, an attic.

Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art: One of the world’s most prestigious modern-art museums.

Coffeeshops: What’s that smell? It certainly isn’t coffee. Because of Amsterdam’s tolerant attitude to certain drugs, you’ll find them “served” in the city’s numerous coffeeshops.