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The Eating and Drinking Guide to NOLA

New Orleans is the kind of city where even the most tacky, touristy things seem to make sense, and where the actual people of the city are the real entertainment. They’re authentic and fiercely loyal to their city, incredibly friendly and tolerant, and even welcoming to the idiot tourists. The Uber drivers will give you […]

The “Why I Hate Gift Guides” Holiday Gift Guide

I’m not going to buy anyone a toaster or a clock, no matter how cool. Getting someone an experience is the trendy thing to do these days, but it’s nothing new for us—we’ve spent years preaching that time and resources are better used to get out and see the world instead of buying stuff. At […]

Exploring Tasmania’s Wine, Whisky, Waters, and Wallabies

We decided to go to Tasmania when we were in Bhutan. It makes perfect sense. It was over cocktails on our last night, after a magical trip, with our ragtag group of friends and friend/guide, Matt (a former Backroads guide who started his own small tour company). Matt’s a little crazy, gives great color commentary, […]

Sydney by Neighborhood: The Best Spots to Eat and Stay

Dear Sydney, Yes, I know you’re pissed at us for saying we like Melbourne better. But let us make it up to you. You have your own attributes. But the cruise ships that dock in your harbor daily? Unfortunate. Let’s not dwell on it. If it’s your first time in Sydney, do not go directly […]

Where to Stay, Eat, and Drink in Melbourne, Australia

Sorry, Sydney: Melbourne is kicking your ass. Yes, you have the bridge. And the Opera House. And the cool fish market. But Melbourne? Although it’s vast, it’s concentrated, energetic, artistic, vibrant, youthful, stylish. The restaurants are incredible, and the city just feels like it’s buzzing. Stay: First choice: the QT Hotel. Close to the central […]

The Best Hotel Experiences in the USA: City Edition

Where are the best hotel experiences in bigger cities with all the touchpoints of design, details and service, plus a great location? Our City Hotel Edition picks up where the national best of list leaves off: The Greenwich Hotel, NYC Crosby Street Hotel, NYC The Bowery Hotel, NYC XV Beacon, Boston The Battery, San Francisco […]

A City Guide to New York: Favorite Neighborhoods, Restaurants, Hotels, and Bars

We love to share our restaurant recommendations in cities all over the world. Perhaps this “pay-it-forward” attitude is supposed to be some sort of twisted justification for all of our eating and drinking. And New York is the most frequently requested place, hands down. It’s nearly impossible to navigate the openings and closings even in […]

The Best Hotel Experiences in the USA

For us, hotels are more than just a place to sleep. We seek experiences, especially those with aspects that we can apply to our daily design business. Through a lot of trial and error, this quest has resulted in a list of favorite US hotel experiences, all of which make for a great vacation without […]

A Non-Scientific Guide to Eating and Drinking in San Francisco

Pre-Uber, our relationship with San Francisco was shaky at best. Let’s just say it’s become a lot more stable in the last few years. Really, our favorite way to experience San Fran is to make it a frequent one-night stop on our way to and from Healdsburg, Yountville, or down south to Carmel. I always […]

A Weekend in Healdsburg, CA: The Perfect Day on Repeat

If you could live one day over and over again (a la Bill Murray in Groundhog Day), what would it be? For us, it goes like this: Wake up, usually pretty early for the sunrise (or before). Have a spectacular breakfast, ideally outside on a patio or rooftop. Take a walk while breakfast digests. Hop […]

One Week at “Home”

“How about nights a week do you eat out?” We get that question a lot. Our response: “Six to seven.” “No, I didn’t mean when you’re traveling. When you’re home. In Minneapolis for a full week,” they clarify. Our response: “Six to seven.” “How is that possible?” is the next question. First, it’s a bit […]

Bhutan: Hiking and Biking Our Way Through the Mountains

I give my life a 10. During a recent round of physicals (to make sure I don’t fall over dead on work property), one of the doctors asked how I would rank my life. A 10. “Really,” he said, “are you sure? It’s not often I hear that from people.” “I’m sure,” I said. “A […]

Obsessions: Twin Cities Dining

(The first in what will likely be a long series…) Since eating out in the Twin Cities seems to be our full-time job (five lunches a week and six to seven dinners when we’re not traveling—no, I’m not exaggerating), it’s probably appropriate to create a list dedicated to some of our current and long-term favorites. […]

The Art of Travel – Tips

When someone asks for our best tips for traveling, it often comes down to these basics. As someone who travels about 250,000 miles a year for business and pleasure, travel isn’t an art—it is art. It’s a way to learn and experience new places, whether you’re biking through Bhutan or on business in Baltimore. To […]

Staying, Eating, and Drinking in Portland, ME

The aftermath of our few days in Portland could best be described as a “food coma.” We both felt like geese about to have our livers harvested for foie gras (although they would have found pure wine and Sazerac where our livers are supposed to be). After eating and drinking at what felt like 320 [...]

The Dos and Don’ts of Berlin

What not to do in Berlin: Don’t go to Checkpoint Charlie… Unless you’re in the mood for KFC. It’s ridiculously crowded and touristy, and has lost the poignancy of the time it’s supposed to represent. And many chain fast food restaurants are right in the same area. Don’t get the giant currywurst in your picture […]

The Art of Bar-Sitting

We sit at bars. It doesn’t matter if it’s considered a fine-dining restaurant or if it’s an actual dive bar, we always prefer to sit at the bar. When we make reservations, we request bar seats, and if they won’t reserve them, we wait until they open up and forgo our table 98% of the […]

Obsessions: Cool & Clever

Our favorites of the moment (in the continued spirit of the art of the top 10 list)….   1. The Death of Stalin. Singlehandedly the most hilariously clever movie I’ve seen in a long time. Available on iTunes, Amazon, and all the usual places. 2. Clear. If you travel more than three times a year, it’s worth […]

When Travel Goes Bad

Yes, travel can occasionally be easy. But when it sucks, it really sucks. We have a whole long list of “You’ve got to be kidding me” stories that make for great dinner conversation. Here are two of our favorites, and the reason we abide by the carry-on-only rule: Strasbourg “It’s not open. The airport is […]

Navigating Prague’s History, Cobblestones, and Czech Food

Welcome to Prague. Our apologies to everyone looking for a love story. Prague (in its historical heart) is just plain crowded with tourists of every shape, size, and smell. It’s home to 1.5 million people and 7 million tourists. You do the math. Before you think we’re going to trash the city, read on. But […]

Obsessions: Drinking & Travel

The Art of the Top 10 (List 2) Top 10 Current Obsessions Second in our ongoing series of current obsessions.  This time around, we’re staying right in our sweet spot:  Spending (probably too much) $$$ on food, booze and travel. Food: Cookies at Chip (Gansevoort Market, NYC) for those who believe cookies are a food […]

Boston by Neighborhood: A Provincial Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Staying in Beantown

No matter where we are, other than Boston, it usually only takes a few words out of David’s mouth before whomever we’re talking with asks if he’s from Boston. His usual response is yes, a hundred years ago, but we go back often. You won’t get a list of the best duck-boat tour operators in [...]

Obsessions: Essentials

The Art of the Top 10 (List 1) Top 10 lists are impossible for us.  We have every intention, and have even tried, to boil down our favorite things, places, hotels—it’s impossible. But a series of Top 10 lists?  That we can attempt. Top 10 Current Obsessions We are the ultimate consumers. We consider it […]

A Guide to Austin’s Quirks

If you want to stand in line, Austin is the place. It’s an incredible food town with a great vibe and unique local foods, quirky brands, and, of course, barbecue. But so much of the best is served out of containers/food trucks/food trailers/Airstreams/metal boxes/dumpsters transformed into “places that serve food.” And the lines don’t stop […]

Why Buenos Aires is Perfect for a Long Weekend

As crazy as it sounds, Buenos Aires is a great city for a long weekend…. Hear me out. Same time zone and overnight flight means there is no jet lag or loss of sleep.  But, if you’re not crazy enough to go for a long weekend, it’s our preference to Santiago when we’re in the Argentina/Chile […]

An Active Adventure in Patagonia Sur

We had already driven nearly three hours when we hit the rough gravel outside of El Chalten. Ugh, we have to almost be there. Gonzo (a nickname), our driver, turned around and said, “It’s about another hour, and I’m sorry, but the road is really bumpy.”   Now we were getting a bit crabby, but […]

A Desert Guide to Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs isn’t just for “older” people. At the very least, the food isn’t. It’s gotten a reputation as a place where abundant “flippers” (sunbathers) bask all day—just by a pool instead of on the sand. But there’s plenty else to do—and eat—in PS. And a little pool time in between to cool off never […]

Eating and Drinking Through Los Angeles

I can’t remember the last time we said, “Let’s go to LA for a long weekend.” New York, of course. Boston, no question. Chicago, absolutely. Los Angeles has everything on the checklist that most cities don’t: consistently great weather, selection of incredible hotels, fantastic restaurants. Unfortunately, what ties them all together is a very long [...]

Three Days in Miami

When it’s January and you live in Minnesota, there is no high horse on which to sit and judge or criticize any place in the world. So Miami becomes an easy go-to place and our goal is to find the areas without tons of club hopping tourists and to avoid the tacky strip mall vibe […]

Travel Rules for Montreal

Montreal is a great getaway town—a couple of days are enough time to see the Old City and some of the cool neighborhoods, hike through the Mt. Royal park, and hit a lot of great restaurants and bars. We find it best to arrive late afternoon, giving ourselves an introduction to the city in the […]

Eating, Drinking, and Absorbing Charleston’s Southern Charm

Charleston is the anti-Los Angeles. Charleston exists to balance out the Orlandos of the world. It has actual history. It’s walkable. You can bicycle. It has neighborhoods. It has soul. And now, it also has great restaurants, hotels, and cocktail bars. If you’re from the Midwest, there’s the added bonus of warmth (except in the […]

A Washington, DC Walking Tour: Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay

Washington, DC can be great—but keep in mind, it’s an expense account town. Translation: more expensive than it should be. Stay away from driving, if you can—there are taxis and Ubers everywhere, and traffic is a disaster. As always, we suggest using your feet instead. One of our favorite walking areas is between Dupont Circle […]

Exploring the Best of Chicago

Chicago is a first-tier US city with a food scene that’s exploded over the past fifteen years to rival New York’s (although in a completely different way, emphasizing the hearty over the spectacle—with the exception of Alinea’s showstopping dinner service and the Aviary’s cocktails, a production in itself). Sure, it’s cold in the winter, and […]

2017 Travel Highlights

We began and ended 2017 in a similar fashion: on a hiking/biking trip on the California coast. Are we in a rut? Maybe—but it’s cold in Minnesota at the beginning and ending of the year, and in California, it’s… Not.   Granted, the two trips were a bit different. 2017 started in Montecito, with more […]

A Travel Guide to Basque: Spain and France

All about the Basque.   When it rains and you’re caught in the narrow streets of San Sebastián, Spain, should you buy an umbrella? Or should you simply go to the bar and drink Cava?   In case it was really a question to begin with, the answer became even more clear when a tiny […]

A Guide to Portugal, from City to Country

For the Love of Cod   If you’re a codfish, keep Portugal off your bucket list.   If you don’t, you will inevitably end up as a terrine, a chip, in a soup, baked on a plate, even in a cheese dip with eggs.  The Portuguese love their cod.  

Exploring Montenegro by Bike

Our next trip was to Montenegro. Here’s a sample of responses we got when telling friends and family: “I can’t even pretend to know where that is.” “Oh, back to Africa?” “Weren’t you just in Central America?” “I hear Spain is nice and warm this time of year.” “Oh. Sounds nice.” (Blank smile) “Do you […]

Berlin to Prague, by Bike

“You’ve never been to Prague? With all your traveling?” It was becoming a common question. When we said no, it felt like admitting we’d never tasted chocolate, or champagne. Or chocolate and champagne. With the exception of Paris, going to one city as a singular destination was nearly impossible for us and our restlessness, except […]

Puglia: Bicycling and Eating Through the Italian Countryside

Getting to the Heel: Puglia Puglia (Puh-lee-a) is the heel of the Italian boot.  The leather of this part of the boot isn’t as high end as in Milan, Rome or Florence, but it’s well-worn, confident and genuine.   What is Puglia? Flat, olive trees, olive trees, old olive trees, older olive trees, olive trees.  […]

A Few Days in Florence

Heading to the Heel A stop in Florence On our way to Puglia, the heel of the boot in Italy, we decided to spend a few days in Florence.  We hadn’t been in a number of years, and we wanted a little contrast of city and eating and drinking prior to the trip. (We were […]

Invincible

6 weeks before Puglia… The moment of impact was a powerful, hard-hitting shock.  I have a vague memory of flying through the air wondering what I hit and how I would land.  The next memory was of lying on the hot pavement, numb. Why fear? I’ve always been missing a fear gene.  Fear, like worry, […]

Drinking Our Way Through Chile’s Wine Country

The best gin and tonic I’ve ever had was in Santiago, Chile.   It wasn’t that special (Hendrick’s and Fever Tree), but after more than a week of wine for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner, it tasted like springtime.   It surprised us to know you can get tired of wine. Of course, it […]

A Moroccan Adventure: The Best and the Worst

Dear ROYAL Air Maroc,   We just returned from Morocco and wanted to commend you on the most horrific example of service and efficiency in the travel industry, ever. If your goal is to eliminate all tourism and air travel in and out of Morocco, congratulations on a job well done.   Yours ever so […]

India’s Impact: Exploring the Regions and Culture

It’s a good thing delivery pizza isn’t big in India.   Why?   The country has garbage scattered everywhere. Cows are also everywhere. They have their run of the place and they like to eat the garbage, which includes a lot of cardboard boxes. (Maybe we can blame Amazon for that, too?) If India was big […]

2016 Travel Highlights

So, apparently, social media believes 2016 sucked. Well, I guess it’s all what you make of it.

An Idyllic Trip to Turkey

Merhaba, Turkey   The boat was nearly still, anchored in the bay with a half-full moon hanging in the starry sky above. Diana Krall’s “Just the Way You Are” began playing over the central speaker system echoing into the warm night air. Our new friends from Michigan got up and began dancing across the boat’s […]

A Long Weekend in Belize

Seeking the Sun: Belize Edition (Or, more aptly named, Three-Day Country, Two-Hour Towns)   When you live in cold climes, you’ll inevitably be on a quest to stay warm in the winter—leading to our Seeking the Sun series. For us, these trips are usually three-day countries filled with a smattering of two-hour towns. Why only […]

Favorite International Travel Memories

aka: Selective Memories    When you travel as much as we do, you’re hit with inevitable questions:   “Aren’t you worried about your safety?”   “What do you pack?”   “What’s your favorite place?”   The first two usually get a smartass response from me, and the last one is somewhat audience-dependent.  But, the true answer is […]

Japan Travel Rules and Highlights

On our way home from Japan, we went through moments and memories as we often do on long plane rides.   Typical of us, all thoughts came back in rapid-fire, scatter-pattern fashion with no rhyme or reason and no order or organization. Before I post an entry, I usually attempt to turn our random thoughts […]

A Guide to Tokyo

Asia—especially southeast Asia—can be a tough place to travel to, even for a veteran traveler. The flights are insanely long, and the time difference could not be more difficult (10-13 hours, depending on location).   For us, Japan was a breeze. A direct flight to Tokyo, a car to the hotel, a brisk walk around […]

The Cities and Countryside of Vietnam

What can actually be carried on a motorbike (moto)?   Here’s a handful of favorite things we saw being transported on moto in Vietnam:   Kumquat trees. 10-feet+ high, and in full bloom. A 30-year-old TV set. Maybe you’ve forgotten the size of pre-flat screen TVs? HUGE. A fish tank. With fish. And an operating […]

Bicycling Sicily—Still Italy?

It’s not that we didn’t want to go to Sicily.   We were supposed to go bicycling in the Dolomites. But, apparently we were the only idiots who wanted to bike ride in a mountain range to elevations of 11,000 feet, so they cancelled the trip for September and we had to re-direct our travel.   […]

Traveling the World by Bike

Here’s a snippet of a conversation that has happened to us, almost verbatim, too many times to count:   “I’m going to be out for 8 days starting on Wednesday for vacation,” I say.

The Best Parts of Rome

Rome doesn’t suck   I made peace with Rome at a small, off the beaten path restaurant. It was a combination of the sparkling wine (in a country of thick, dirty reds) and some fritto vegetariano.  Deep. Fried. Vegetables.    On this tiny side street it finally felt smaller, less crowded, more accessible.  Almost charming.

A Tale of Two Countries: Alsace

From the oompah band to the Michelin two star dinner (side note, as we’re writing this, we’re drinking Wolfberger, sparkling rose, Cremant d’ Alsace. HIGHLY recommended while reading, writing, or just enjoying everyday happy hour).   Our quest for what’s new in everyday champagne led us to Alsace, home of Cremant D’Alsace and thousands of other, […]

THE REST OF FRANCE: Provence

Is a book, not a blog entry.  So let’s tackle in small doses. If you’ve never been outside of Paris, go to Provence first over Loire, Burgundy, Alsace, Bordeaux, Normandy, Nice, and Marseille. Those are all unbelievable, but go to Provence. Period.

A City Guide to Paris

Some people love Paris. Some really love Paris. Others “tour” Paris.   The experience The difference is in how you experience the city, or really how you experience anything. You can’t approach Paris as a bucket-list item, with a checklist to mark off items you can say you’ve seen. That’s touring Paris. That picture of […]

South Africa, from City to Safari

We love the sunrise.  It marks the beginning of the day with a bright “here I am” smile.  The sunrise is universally loved, with probably the exception of night shift or restaurant industry workers.   The moon rise doesn’t have the same acclaim.  Maybe because it’s less consistent.  Maybe it’s because no one actually really […]

Peru: Machu Picchu and More

Land of gods and guinea pigs   Lima is not our favorite city. In fact, it’s probably in the bottom five of our list. Or bottom two. But Lima was start of another “once-in-a-lifetime” trip, so we made the most of it. We walked the parks and the neighborhood of Miraflores. We ate at several […]

Exploring Cambodia

Cambodia is known distinctly for two very different reasons:  Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields.   The former brought us here.  The latter taught us about the incredible Khmer people.  

Miami

Florida, I’m sorry. Please take no personal offense at the following comments. It’s just that Florida has its share of derogatory descriptions: “God’s waiting room.” “A wonderful place to enjoy some pain pills or die of old age. And vice versa.” “No one is actually FROM Florida. They just die in Florida.” So the state [...]

Contrasting Experiences in Argentina

From meat to mountains to Malbec, from cloud forests to colorful canyons, from leather to lakes to landscapes, Argentina is a series of beautiful and complicated contrasts.   Like that alliteration?   Okay, enough with the travel-brochure crap.  

New York: East Village, Bowery, LES (with SoHo thrown in)

This is hands-down our favorite area of the city–not just because there’s a great restaurant or bar every half block, but because we’ve seen a great part of the city transform and continue to change while keeping its character. It’s on the border of SoHo, which has really become a giant shopping mall (but still [...]

A Guide to Burma. Or Myanmar?

Burma Or Myanmar? The first ones to the party.   I’m usually up for anything he throws at me.  Moscow and the Black Sea?  Sure, fascinating and interesting.  China?   Absolutely.  India? Yes, incredible.   Burma?  I have to say, I didn’t jump up and down over that one.