Food can shape a destination’s culture, so I always feel like it is nice to try the local specialties when I travel. I had been to a few Portuguese restaurants, but I knew there was so much I had not tried. In Portugal, and Porto more specifically, food plays a big part in everyday life. It is not uncommon for a dinner to last hours because it really is an event. Our first dinner in Porto lasted from 8 pm until almost 1 am! I wanted to experience more of the local food culture so we decided to try a Porto Food Tour.
The Porto food tour we took was the Finger Food Tour with Porto Walkers. According to the website, we would have eight snacks and three drinks. The tour runs from 11:30 am to 2 pm and they suggest you come hungry. We were also warned that we would be going to very local spots and might run into some rowdy locals. I was excited to try some new dishes and see more of the city.(more…)
The Harry Potter book series is the best-selling of all time. I know many people travel specifically to Harry Potter related spots in the United Kingdom, like the Warner Bros Studio Tour just north of London or the Harry Potter train in Scotland. I didn’t even realize until I checked into the Grande Hotel Porto that there is a Harry Potter connection to Porto, Portugal. Diogo, who works at the front desk, told me that JK Rowling actually was living in here teaching English when she starting writing the books and recommended that we check out some of the Harry Potter Porto points of interest. Even if it is debatable about how much Porto influenced the Harry Potter books, it is interesting to visit the sites.
Harry Potter Porto Site #1: Majestic Cafe
The Majestic Café, where it is rumored that JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, is less than a block from our hotel. The Grande Hotel Porto is the second oldest hotel in Porto and has a proud history. This is apparent as soon as you step through the door. The lobby area feels very elegant with beautiful period furniture and this continues throughout the hotel. The dining area is beautiful and our room was very comfortable and nicely decorated with classic pieces. The service at the hotel really stood out, everyone was so nice and helpful. (more…)
Believe me I know how important sleep is. When I am tired, I am grouchy, impatient, and sometimes can’t even think straight. I don’t want to be that person, so I always try to make sure I get enough sleep. When your bed for the night is an airplane seat in economy, that is easier said than done. After many sleepless flights, I now use a neck support pillow and have founds a few other things that have helped me sleep better.
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For many years, I would try to avoid overnight flights if possible because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice. In many cases, the only flight option is an overnight one like many routes from the US to Europe. I actually don’t mind redeye flights because that way I don’t waste valuable daytime hours traveling. When you get good sleep on the plane, you will arrive ready to make the most of your trip. After countless long flights, I thought I should share some of the things I have learned the help me get better sleep on the plane.(more…)
One of the worst things about traveling for me is jet lag. I have a very strong body clock and I have a hard time adjusting to time differences. When I used to do a lot of international travel with work, I knew I needed to do something to make it easier. I spoke with a doctor and he recommend I try Ambien CR, a prescription sleep medicine, to help me sleep. Taking ambien for jet lag definitely helped, but it did also cause some issues.
Note: I am not a medical expert and this post is not based on medical research or meant to be medical advice. I am not suggesting that you take Ambien for jet lag or don’t take it. You should consult your doctor to make sure the decision is right for you. I just wanted to share my experience and opinions.
When I travel I normally don’t have issues falling asleep, however, I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. So I took Ambien CR, which releases medicine to your body over about an eight hour period, to help you stay asleep. (You could also just take Ambien, which helps you get to sleep but does not continue to release medicine throughout the night.)
The label instructs you to not drink alcohol and also to make sure you can devote at least eight hours to sleep before you take it. I tried my best to make sure I followed those guidelines. It is prescription, so not something you should take lightly.
The ambien would begin working fast. Literally, a few minutes after I would swallow the pill my eyelids would feel so heavy it would be difficult for me to keep them open. Then, I would sleep so deeply for a solid 7-8 hours. I would wake up feeling really refreshed because I had slept so well.
It was not all good though. Ambien did affect my mind and of course I didn’t realize it at the time. The best example of how it affected me was when I was in Australia. The taxi picked us up at the hotel and we put our bags (with computers in them) in the back and headed to the office. Well, when we arrived at the office I totally forgot that my computer was in the trunk and went to the office without it. I quickly I realized I had forgotten it, but the taxi had already left.(more…)
The Old Man of Storr is not actually a person, it is a rock formation on Isle of Skye, Scotland. You can spot it from a distance because it really looks like an old man on top of the mountain. Of course, since it is so iconic, we really wanted to hike it during our short visit.
The Old Man of Storr is part of the Trotternish Ridge which is about a 10 minute drive north of Portree, the main town on the island. The afternoon we went the weather looked like it might take a turn for the worse, as can happen in Scotland. It was windy, drizzled at times, and the clouds were very low. I am sure Old Man of Storr was much less crowded than it normally is. We found parking in the lot on the main road.(more…)