World travel bests and superlatives

One of the first questions we get asked when people find out about our trip is, “what are your favorite spots, foods, and countries so far?!” It is a tough question. So many places are so very different and we enjoyed them each in different ways. That being said, I’ll try my best to give you all what you’re looking for ;p

Important Note: None of the food experiences listed here (including alcohol, tax and tip for two) ever broke $70. Most of our meals were between $20-$50. We think almost any city will have amazing food if you are willing to spend a lot. We believe the quality of an area is best represented by the easy-to-acquire foods, not the exquisite ones.

For items Jackie and I did not agree on we separated out our choices. We haven’t been everywhere yet so we reserve the right to change the list at anytime! 🙂

Best Fast-and-Cheap Dish

Gyros in Greece

For 2 Euros you can have a hot, meaty, saucy Gyro in under a minute. This is the best, and most consistently good and inexpensive food we’ve had so far.

Most consistently good food


We’ve enjoyed every meal we have had in France. From the street food of Quiche, Croque Monsieur, Socca, Crepes and Baguettes to the more sophisticated duck and foie, and fish dishes they are are average or better.

Best single dishes 

Tuscany (My #2, Jackies #1)

Unfortunately we had some bad food experiences in Italy so it didn’t get a consistent rating like france. That being said, when the meal hit it, they hit big. Jackie’s favorite Gnocchi and Both of our Favorite Pastas were in a town called Multi Poccino.

Paris France (Sean #1)

I was in heaven. I really enjoyed or Tuscan meal, but it didn’t have the variety and complexity you get with french food. My Favorite meal was a Cod Puree, Coq Au Vin, Watermelon and Tomato salad with Feta Cheese, and a Ratatouille Brioche. Including wine, tax, and tip it was all under 50 Euros!

Most likely to return


We heard a lot about how much our friends love istanbul so we had high expectations. Usually that ruins a trip. In this case, moments after we arrived at our hotel and took a stroll down our coble road to the Galata tower we got it. The city is alive with people, color, and texture. There are great clubs, bust towns, ancient history, and cheap holes. It is a lot to take in and a lot to do.


Jackie had her trepidations about visiting France based on a few childhood experiences, but once we got here they were all put to rest. The people have been friendly (ironically, except a few expats working here) the food has been yummy, and the sites have been wonderful. Paris is so massive and full of life that we agreed we will definitely return once again.

Best Dessert

Baklava in Istanbul

We ended up going to the same place 3 times in one week. Each time ordering “one portion” consisting of 6 pieces. Yeah – that is a lot of baklava and yet it was never enough. Man, I miss still miss it!

Country with the most diverse landscape and culture


We hit Cappadocia, Istanbul and Ephesus. Each scene was so different to the next. The historic culture between conquests have left their mark on how overlapping the cultures are today. We heard there were great beach towns too that we didn’t get to see.

“Hidden Gem”


You don’t hear much about this place but it is a much larger city than you expect. It is filled with monumental architecture, a nightlife, and festivals. It is considered one of the jewels of Europe and at the price points you can find there it is literally and figuratively a hidden gem to most American tourists.

Best Wildlife Experience


I will never in my life forget the feeling of holding a cuddly koala bear or feeding a wallaby and kangaroo. I know it is no big deal to the locals but it was the most heart warning awesomeness on our trip.

Most Likley to Live if not in US


Clean, safe, cultural and food friendly.

Wellington, New Zealand

Earthy, fun, foody outdoorsy – reminds us of a merging of portland and SF.


From David to Venus: A video tour through Florence, Italy

We love how Florence is able to provide so many things to see and do into a town that very much feels like a part of the Tuscany countryside. The only downside is the mega crowds and lines you may have to  contend with to see the immense collection of art and architecture.

We started our tour with a stroll over the Ponte Alle Grazie and walked through an array of beautiful sculptures filling every corner of  the open air square at Loggia de Lanzi.

There is truly no end to the sites and art to see in Florence, from the Accademia which holds Michelangelo’s David (which is so much larger in real life than I had imagined), to the Birth of Venus in the Uffizi Gallery, you will be sure to check of a large chunk of your bucket list in this town.

Our drive through Chianti

Chianti is not an area you want to get lost in. Don’t get me wrong, the views are spectacular and the drive is like a long stroll through a museum of italian art, but when you take a wrong turn things go very bad, very gradually; an ugly combination.

We drove our little two door up many daringly narrow, gravel-paved roads before deciding to turn around. Nevertheless the mistakes turned out to make some fun memory (since we made it out unscathed) and the stops on the side of the road to take it all in made it totally worth it.

Our drive through and tastes of Tuscany, Italy

Of all the spots in the world we are marking as “must return here”, Tuscany is at the top. Sure, there are some things to be careful of while driving through Italy, but the long up-hill climbs to view the valleys from the entryways of medieval walled towns makes it so very worth it. Tuscany is the part of Italy you dream of when you imagine what a trip here would be like. So many other parts of Italy are too large or too touristy, but a great deal of Tuscany is made up of open roads and quaint towns.

Oh yeah, and the food! To be frank, the average Italian meal was only so-so, but the best meals we’ve had on the entire trip (and ones that were also modestly priced) were here in Tuscany.

Driving Through Italy: Know the etiquette and rules while avoiding fines


Italy is known for its Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and although we didn’t see any it seemed like everyone thought they were driving one.


Funny thing about italy. It is the exact opposite of Australia’s driving culture. Everyone and their grandmother is going 30Km/h or more over the speed limit.  We saw few police on the highway but many radar cameras and signs. Based on our experiences in NZ and AU we did our best to stay below the posted speed limit even though no one else seemed to.

A huge credit to Italian drivers: they always pulled to the right when they weren’t passing. (Something I really wish more Americans did.) We noticed  a sort of dance that exists in the way cars passed one another. On the highway you could  often see one car speeding past you and then immediately pull in to the right lane. Just as another car passed them and went directly into the right lane too. Then another car would pass and do the same, and then another. It was a sort of jump-frog of cars passing by and pulling over to the slower lane to let the person behind them go by. It was quite impressive actually.

You would also often see what I call a “slow-lane tap-in” during the “passing dance”. After a car would speed past us they would tap half of their car into the right lane for a few moments before speeding off again.

Driving through towns

You cannot drive within the city walls of any of the small historic cities like Siena, Pisa, Cortona etc. If you do, not only will you get lost or have a hell of a time turning around but you’ll get fined $100 or more for doing so. Yes, there will be cars driving into and around the city making it seem like it is a-okay, but YOU are not allowed to follow suit. A “my mistake” will get you nowhere with an officer. Finally, after 5 days, if you don’t pay up your fine could double. I really wish our rental car company would have clued us in.

A good rule of thumbs is: If you are about to drive through an archway of a huge wall, turn around.

IDP Required

Italy is one of the few countries that *require* an IDP (International drivers permit.) Not having one will cost you a $300 fine on top of whatever else you get stopped for.

ztlBeware of Traffic Zones

Watch out for ZTLs (zona a traffico limitato – reduced traffic zone.) There are cameras everywhere and you may not even get a notice of your fine for up to a year.


Make sure you bring change with you. Many parking stations don’t take credit cards or cash. Also, be sure to check online for parking info for the town you plan to visit. For example, there is parking for residents only in certain areas of town and there may not be a sign specifying it as such. Check other car’s dashboard nearby. If there are papers on the dash with the word “resident” on it, it probably isn’t a public lot. Most likely you will need to park and walk or grab a bus to the town. Also, different color spaces have different implied costs. For example, white spaces can mean free, while blue can mean you have to pay, and they may be situated right next to one another. In some cases yellow will denote its for resident, but bear in mind that not all resident spaces are yellow.

In the new world of automated, camera based, ticketing systems the days of “I didn’t know” are all but a memory. You must be far more researched that you had to be in the past to go on a driving adventure abroad. Hopefully these tips help 🙂