Archives for ‘Travel’

Wodna Wieza

June 20, 2014 By: Jenna Category: reviews, Travel

I think this post represents two firsts for me – the first time I’ve written a recap within 24 hours, and the first time I’ve done so with photos taken and edited on my iphone. All edits were done with VSCOcam and the side-by-side shots are done with TwinCollage.

Everyone else in my family is sleeping in today (we are still in Poland), and since I was up at 5am I’ve had plenty of time to process photos and put this post together. I’m hoping I can keep this early morning momentum going because I love feeling like I’ve accomplished so much before 8am.

I wanted to write up a post about our dinner last night for a few reasons. I’ve been doing lots of Europe trip planning lately and the English-language blog posts I find about things I’m researching are really handy. TH and I also fell in love with Wodna Wieza and when we like a restaurant that much we start to worry it might go out of business. This happened to our favorite Dallas restaurant, Aurora. I know odds are slim that any of my readers will be heading to Krakow anytime soon, but if you ever do visit the southwestern area of Poland I think it would be worth a trip.

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 Wodna Wieza calls itself a Steampunk Cafe, though I think the use of the term cafe makes it sound a lot simpler than it actually is. It’s nouvelle cusine with a touch of molecular gastronomy in a setting that has attention to detail unmatched by any restaurant I’ve ever been to.

Is there a Steampunk Restaurant Supply catalog somewhere? My iphone couldn’t do this place justice.

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The wine cellar.

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It wasn’t just the decor that wowed us, with each course of our 5 course tasting menu they brought us unique silverware unlike anything any of us had ever seen before.

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The restaurant is on the top floor of an old water tower, so the views are stunning as well!

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Our dining group for the evening.

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The first course was a grouping of individual mushrooms, in a very unique serving dish, made 10x cooler when the server “watered” the largest mushroom and revealed the presence of dry ice nested underneath. Throughout the meal I was really impressed by how far they were able to take things without it feeling cheesy or trite. We ooohed and aaaahed with each new thing brought to the table. Even the bread and butter! (Honey and lemon infused butter, delicious.)

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Children and Foreign Grandparents

June 20, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Parenting, Travel

 

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We have been in Poland for about a week, with another week to go. TH’s family is as lovely as ever, and once the (grueling) flight from the States to Poland is over I always feel we shouldn’t wait so long to come back again.

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I anticipated a really awful flight, and the kids actually exceeded my expectations. It was overnight and they slept for a good portion of it. We bought a seat for T2 and put her in a car seat and that made things a lot easier. I also expected jet lag with two kids to be tough, and it was. The kids have been sleeping in the same room for several weeks now, but here we have been unable to get them to settle in and sleep through the night if they are together. I’m grateful that my in-laws are providing us with several days in Berlin without the kids. We are craving some serious re-connection time as a couple.

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One thing I didn’t anticipate was how hard this trip would be for T1. Previously he was very young, either not talking yet or just learning to speak, and he didn’t seem to mind the language barrier so much. All speech probably sounded a bit confusing to him! Now though he seems really thrown by the lack of English and strong accents. I confess I’m not sure how to walk the line between affording him space to be shy and autonomous, and pushing him outside of his comfort zone in order to be polite and attempt to form bonds with these family members who love him so much.

We’ve talked about different options but aren’t sure what will be best. Maybe we keep the current approach, visiting for two weeks every 1-2 years, and see how things develop. Try to prioritize video conferencing more often. Long summers in Poland for the kids at some point? Are there things we can do now to prevent the same disconnect for T2?

It’s been really hard for me to watch all of this unfold, because I feel like one way I can express love and gratitude for my inlaws is to encourage my kids to engage with the in meaningful ways. But T1 is his own person, and I can’t force him to feel and think and act in ways that don’t match with what he wants. I hope this is just a stage, like most other things with kids this young.

Do I have any readers with family who live internationally and speak a language that isn’t spoken by their grandchildren/nieces/nephews/etc? How have you made it work?

Entouriste

July 25, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Travel

After we visited Italy in 2012 I couldn’t stop raving about La Torre, an agriturismo in the Bagni di Lucca region of Tuscany. Anytime anyone said they were thinking about a trip to Italy I would urge them to look into this place that felt so magical to me, and it’s a place that I wish everyone could experience. I was thrilled when my friend Ami accepted my submission about La Torre to her travel website because it means even more people can dream about going there!

Ami launched Entouriste earlier this year, a travel blog that accepts submissions of beautiful places around the world. Most of the submissions come from photographers and so the photos are gorgeous (whenever I want to pin a post to my travel-themed board on Pinterest I have a hard time choosing a favorite). I love the site not only for the photos, but for the ways the submission focus in on areas of the world that aren’t often highlighted in travel books or magazines. I know that if I ever go to France that the Eiffel Tower won’t be at the top of my list, the Walled City of Saint-Malo will. If we ever settle in one place long enough I’d love to do a Hometown Highlights tour.

Entouriste’s motto is “Go Ahead, Get Lost“, and it makes me smile every time I click over there. Even if you can’t travel right now, or in the forseeable future, it’s pretty wonderful to spend an afternoon getting lost on the site. The Patagonia post. And the Ring Road of Iceland. Oh! And the Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. I’ll stop. After I link you to this post about The Causeway Coastal Route, which you’ll add to your bucket list of you’re a Game of Thrones fan like me.

Poland 2011

May 02, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

Look at how much T1 has grown in 6 months time! We were in Poland in September of 2011 and I’m writing this post in May of 2012. Prompt recaps just really aren’t my thing, you know? This is a little taste of the happiness we found in That Husband’s hometown.

My in-laws have a gorgeous backyard filled with trees and bushes that were bursting with fruit when we were there. Pears, berries, apples. We missed the mini kiwis by only a few days!



T1′s grandparents on both sides spoil him shamelessly. On this visit to Poland he found a special chair in the kitchen where he could sit and drink his milk while watching Teletubbies (in Polish of course).

A favorite from the trip!


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Lake Garda: Where We Ate

April 13, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

My enthusiasm for recaps is running low, and so for my last of our Italy posts I shall copy and paste directly from my notes.

Verdi in Garda
Antipasti d’Italia (assortment of meats with pickled vegetables)
Antipasti of the lake (so so good!)
Mixed salad
Grilled trout (our favorite)
Lavarello
39 euros

Gelateria Paradice
Ricotta Miele e Noci
Fragola
Skip the cone at this place. Not only was my wafer stale, the coconut on the outside was rancid!

La Vittoria
Caprese
Ham and mozzarella
Smoked trout on a bed of greens with pink peppercorns
Lavarello
Huge portions!
45 euros

On the last day of the trip, as we drove down from Lake Garda toward Bologna, we had one last stop. I had done some searching to find the best restaurants in Italy, and it turns out that one of the best in the world is located in Modena. Osteria Francescana was the perfect way to cap off a dream vacation for us.  This place is tucked away, and has some of the best service we’ve ever had. It’s a tiny dining room with six tables, and at the beginning of our meal we almost felt like we should whisper because it was so quiet. Happily this wore off with time. The most interesting thing in the room was the young man dining all alone directly across from us. We enjoyed speculating about who he might be, and why he would be eating such an expensive and unique meal all by himself.

At first That Husband wasn’t very excited about me taking pictures, but then the people around us started photographing every course and so I felt it was appropriate to bring mine out for a few dishes.

If you want a really in-depth review of the meal, this New York Times article will tell you what you need to know. But I admit, I liked that we went into the experience not knowing much about what we were getting ourselves into. A few of the surprises that we had really delighted us. No matter what, you absolutely must have the five ages and five textures of Parmesan cheese. I think it is the most whimsical thing I’ve ever eaten.

Here are my notes:

Modern decor
Only 6 tables in the dining room
When you get up and leave your napkin, they retrieve it and take it away, and bring you a new one using tongs

Meat paste is a little strange texturally, but I appreciated the contrast with the salty bread.

Parmesan dish reigned supreme, the crunchiest was my favorite, with the creamy being the next best.

Soup was very complex, the flavors all finished one after another.

Cooked the ravioli pork until all the fat is gone, light butter sauce

The gelatinous covering on the dessert was interesting, and actually took away from the dish. Once I peeled that off it was much better.

The last course was the best!!!

Oh, and if you go, you must visit the bathroom! The doors are really cool. :)

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With our bellies full (and my heart aching to see the little one again!) we boarded a plane and headed back to Poland. This trip was everything I had been dreaming of.

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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