A Sip of Scotland: Touring the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh

If you want to truly understand Scotland, there's no better place than the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. Here's why.

When I was a wee lass all of 21 years old, I sniffed my first bit of scotch and promptly handed the glass back to my friend. What was this foul stench that reminded me of a dirty, dank bog?

Let’s be honest: at 21, I was more into pinot noir than hard liquor. I was kind of an eejit back then, erroneously assuming that all scotch was disgusting because it was too smoky and peaty for my taste.

What I didn’t realize then — and many of my current friends still don’t — is that the Laphroaig scotch I tasted wasn’t nearly representative of what’s out there in Scotland’s whisky world. NOT ALL SCOTCH IS AS SMOKY AND PEATY AS LAPHROAIG, my friends. I repeat, not all scotch equals Laphroaig(Nothing against it; I actually like it now that my palette is more developed.)

Flash forward ten years later: the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland completely upended my expectations of what scotch is and can be. If you want to truly understand Scotland, there’s no better place than the Scotch Whisky Experience. Here’s why.

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Oh My Guinness!: Touring the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

There's nothing quite as good the perfect pour of a pint of Guinness. Here's some insider tips for your visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.

As someone with a long line of Irish ancestors on the family tree (as in, I’m Irish all year round and not just on St. Patrick’s Day), you might say I’ve got Guinness running through my veins.

In my thirty-odd years on this planet, I’ve found there’s nothing quite as good the perfect pour of a pint of the Black Stuff. That’s why, on our recent family heritage trip in May 2017, we knew we’d need to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Grail of Beer Lovers — er, I mean the Guinness Storehouse — in Dublin, Ireland.

After spending six hours (!) at the joint, we’re here to share what to do — and not do — on your visit to the Guinness Storehouse.

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“Inn Bruges”: Or, How St. Christopher’s Inn Taught Me to Stop Worrying and Love Hostels

With a Belgian beer bar, nightly beer tastings, and clean rooms, St. Christopher's Inn in Bruges, Belgium taught me to actually like hostels!

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I usually don’t stay in hostels. Maybe it’s because, at 31 years old, I don’t want my beauty sleep interrupted by some young whippersnappers bursting into my room at 3 AM singing “We Are The Champions.” (File under experiences from my 20s I’d rather forget.) St. Christopher’s Inn in Bruges, however, changed my mind 100% about what an excellent hostel experience can be.

From their friendly service to hosting one of the best beer tastings in Bruges, here’s why I would stay at St. Christopher’s Inn again and again.

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How To Fall in Love with Amsterdam in 72 Hours

Bikes and Canals in Amsterdam
After 72 hours together, I can officially say I'm enamored with Amsterdam. This is how I fell in love with the Netherlands' capital, and how you will, too.

Oh, Amsterdam. You’re like that friend in college that was always asking me to hang out, but I was always busy for one reason or another. I had a feeling we’d get along; it was just that glitzier cities like Rome and Hong Kong were calling my name more loudly. When I finally came to visit you, however, I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been together sooner.

I fell in love with you, Amsterdam. Hard. Yes, you helped me to understand my Dutch heritage a bit better, but you also surprised me in the most unexpected ways. Your picture-perfect canals. Your relaxed, blue jeans attitude. Even your damn maddening bike lanes won me over in the end.

Though I was uncertain at first, after three days together, I can officially say I’m enamored. This is the true saga of how I fell in love with the capital of the Netherlands in 72 hours, and how you will, too.

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The Heineken Experience: Or, How I Found Beer Nirvana in Amsterdam

Love beer? If you're in Amsterdam, you've got to take the VIP Tour at the Heineken Experience. Dutch beer, cheese, and good cheer - what more could you ask for?

The moment my parents returned from their trip to Amsterdam last spring, they eagerly regaled us with tales of their Dutch adventures. Though they spoke about the usual suspects — the Anne Frank House! Museums galore! Rijsttafel! — I was shocked to learn what topped their list of Amsterdam favorites: the Heineken Experience.

As a beer aficionado with Dutch ancestors, I knew immediately that I needed to visit the Heineken Experience on my March 2017 trip to Amsterdam. Would it be touristy? Cheesy? I didn’t know, but I didn’t care; I was in.

It took zero effort to convince fellow travel blogger Ashley to visit the Heineken Experience with me (probably because we have some serious beer telepathy going on). Turns out we had the best ‘dam time of our lives there. Here’s why.

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2017 Will Rock (Or: I Finally Wrote a 2016 Recap)

2017, I’ve got a feeling we’re going to get along. I’ve got a spring in my step just thinking about what’s ahead. From more consistent posting to trips to Europe and beyond, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year.

Before we get to reviewing our #2017goals, though, let’s take a moment to reflect on this past year.

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The Truth About Reykjavik’s Bar Scene

Did Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, make the cut when it comes to having an awesome bar scene? The answer, it turns out, is more complex than we expected.

I’ll admit it: living in New York City can inflate your food and drink standards so high that you think nothing else can compare. Sometimes, this is warranted (see: Death & Co and Eleven Madison Park). But about half of the time, our friends want us to pull our heads out of our asses and give other cities a fighting chance. Building on our recent successes finding top notch drinks in London and Israel, then, we went into our Reykjavik bar explorations in October with high hopes.

So did Iceland’s capital make the cut when it comes to having an awesome bar scene? The answer, it turns out, is more complex than we expected.

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The Truth About Swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

What's the real deal with Iceland's most popular tourist attraction? Here's what what I learned to do--and not do--on my first visit to the Blue Lagoon.

Traveling to Iceland is all the rage right now. In fact, it seems like I can’t go a day or two without hearing about someone’s recent trip to the land of the midnight sun! No matter what these travelers see and do while they’re in Iceland, however, they all share one identical stop on their itinerary: a visit to the Blue Lagoon.

Taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon has been on my bucket list since before Iceland was on anyone’s radar. (Seriously—I’m talking over ten years ago.) That’s why I was so excited to get up close and personal with this otherworldly spa in early October 2016.

Sure, I tried to prepare myself by reading blog posts and guide books, but nothing can quite prepare you for what it’s actually like. Here’s what what I learned to do—and not do—on my first visit to the Blue Lagoon.

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5 Places You’ll Want to Drink in London

London is the one city in the world that can go head to head with New York City when it comes to cocktails, wine, and beer. Here are five can't-miss spots.

London may be the one city in the world that can go head to head with New York City when it comes to all things libations-related. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and you’ll find that half of the top 10 bars are located in England’s capital city.

Before you blindly stumble into another pub that looks just like the last one you were in, here are five places you should consider drinking at the next time you’re in London.

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“Revisiting”: The Only Wine Term You Need to Know

Giorgio set the glass of garnet-colored wine in front of me confidently, as if he already knew the ultimate decision I’d make.

“Thanks, but I’m not sure if I should try it,” I politely declined, still in disbelief at the fact that it was acceptable to legally drink wine under the age of 21. It was 2006, and the 20-year-old me, studying abroad in Rome, still clung to the rules and regulations she had grown up with in America.

My roommate and I had recently discovered a neighborhood Italian restaurant on one of the side streets near the Pantheon. Lured by the aromas of sizzling meat sauces and freshly-cooked tagliatelle, we were quickly seated in an outdoor table near the back. Upon learning that I had never had wine before, our server, Giorgio, insisted that I try some Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to “make my life complete.”

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