25 tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland www.casualtravelist.com

25 tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland

Iceland is a captivating destination for any traveler. Volcanoes, glaciers, the wind and the sea merge to create a landscape that is like nowhere else on Earth. Whether you come for the eternal sun of summer or in search of winter’s Northern Lights nature is sure to put on a show. With a host of new low cost flight options from North America and mainland Europe there has never been a better time to visit. Here are a few tips to help you plan your first trip to the land of ice and fire.

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Stylish travel clothes- 6 travel bloggers share their secrets for looking good on the road. www.casualtravelist.com

Stylish Travel Clothes- No Longer an Oxymoron

Let’s face it,travel clothing doesn’t necessarily have the most fashionable reputation. As brilliantly lampooned here by The Everywhereist , travel clothing is typically thought of as shapeless, quick-dry nylon with zip off appendages (Basically a sleeping bag with legs). As far as I’m concerned whoever designs hiking pants that are flattering deserves a Nobel Prize.

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Cozy Meets Cool at the Hotel Kong Arthur

Copenhagen is a city known for old world grandeur, sleek Nordic design and just a bit of whimsy thanks to the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. When looking for a place to base my Danish adventures I wanted a place that incorporated all of these elements. I’ve long been a fan boutique hotels and feel that a hotel that is characteristic of the destination always adds to the experience. If I’m staying in a larger city I also look for a hotel that’s away from the tourist fray but close enough to walk to all the major attractions. I found one hotel in Copenhagen that met all of my wishes–the Hotel Kong Arthur.

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In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food

In the Nordic Kitchen with CPH Good Food

Copenhagen is the jewel of Scandinavia’s culinary scene and in recent years gained the international spotlight thanks to Noma, which has four times been crowned the World’s Best Restaurant. Aside from Michelin starred restaurants and pastries (known here as weinerbrod  or “Vienna bread” instead of danish), I sadly knew little of Denmark’s cuisine. In my opinion one of the best ways to learn about a culture is in the kitchen so on my recent trip to Copenhagen I took a class with Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food to find out what Nordic cuisine is all about.

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My first Impression of Copenhagen

My First Impression of Copenhagen

Copenhagen, for some it conjures images of of old world architecture and sleek Nordic design; for others it’s Hans Christian Andersen and a certain ocean-dwelling maiden. Food and the new Nordic cuisine draws others to Danish capital. Cozy and cool, traditional and free-thinking, reserved and welcoming; Copenhagen is a city of contrasts that blend perfectly. After visiting Copenhagen for the first time, here are a few of my first impressions.

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The Iris Inn, a luxury Shenandoah bed and breakfast

The Iris Inn – A Welcoming Shenandoah Hideaway

Two of my favorite ways to unwind are spending a bit of time outside reconnecting with nature and enjoying a good glass of wine. Luckily for me Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, a short 3 hour drive from my home in Virginia Beach, has both in spades making the area an obvious choice for a weekend getaway.

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Tasty Travels- Travel Bloggers Share Their Best Bites from the Road

Tasty Travels- Travel Bloggers Share Their Best Bites from the Road

Some people eat to live while others live to eat; I for one am squarely in the latter camp.The meal that turned me into a foodie will always be etched in my mind; I was in my early 20s and just finishing up the last deployment of my Naval career. We had been out to sea for 159 days straight and after pulling into Marseille France I needed some breathing room. A few of my closest friends and I went straight for the train station and after perusing our options headed towards Avignon. It was late March; gray,drizzly and a bit chilly but we didn’t care. We were in Provence and blissfully had most of the town to ourselves. We settled into our cozy little auberge and just wanting to relax made reservations at its restaurant. What we didn’t know is that we were in for a five course feast and knowing very little French, most of what arrived to our table was a surprise. I enjoyed a delicate vegetable soup topped with a perfectly poached quail egg, had my first tastes of foie gras and venison,  and sampled a number of heady French cheeses. This was all ended with with an intensely rich chocolate-orange pot de creme which still stands as one of the best desserts I’ve had. Looking back, this was a pivotal experience for me. I discovered the pleasures of truly good food and the joys of surprising discoveries on the road.

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Rural Society- A taste of Argentina in Washington DC www.casualtravelist.com

Rural Society-A Taste of Argentina in Washington DC

The dining scene in Washington D.C. just keeps getting better. A number of celebrity chefs along with a wave of creative newcomers looking to make their mark have found culinary inspiration in the nation’s capital leaving me spoiled for choice when looking for a memorable meal. During my recent stay at the Loews Madison I was delighted to find that I didn’t have to go far. Rural Society, the Madison’s flagship restaurant, is Iron Chef Jose Garces’ first foray into Washington D.C and is a new darling among district foodies. Having dined at Tinto and Amada, two of Chef Garces’ restaurants in Philadelphia (the latter of which is solely responsible for my new found love of sherry), I knew I’d be in for a great dining experience at Rural Society.

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The Loews Madison, a boutique luxury hotel in Washington DC just steps from the White House www.casualtravelist.com

The Loews Madison Hotel- My Correct Address in Washington DC

Washington DC is one of my favorite cities for a quick weekend break. History,a vibrant culinary scene, world-class museums and an endless array of festivals and events make DC a perfect place for me to return to again and again. What I hadn’t found though, was the perfect hotel. Each visit I’d stay in a different hotel but none really felt like a good fit; too stuffy, too small, too plain, too far away. Nothing was just right, I kind of felt a bit like Goldilocks. So when a friend recommended I stay at the Loews Madison on my most recent visit I was intrigued, would this be the perfect fit?

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Snapshots from Vienna

Snapshots of Vienna

Vienna is a classical city in every sense of the word. Grand Hapsburg era buildings flank tree-lined avenues and Gothic cathedrals intertwine seamlessly with modern glass skyscrapers. This is a city that influenced the best of European culture; where opera is an obsession and lingering at a cafe for a few hours over fancified coffee and elegant pastries is a national past time. Beethoven, Klimt and Tolstoy along with countless artists and thinkers have all drawn inspiration from Austria’s capital. Vienna wasn’t a city I expected to fall in love with, to be honest I had only planned a few days here as a convenient stop en route from Salzburg to Prague. What I found was a city with a strong sense of itself and an easy-going elegance that’s hard to deny. Here are some of my favorite images from the Imperial City. Read More