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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Around the World in Foodie Days (Part 1) 12.8.10

Yes, Foodie. If you’re like me, you often go out to eat or make something at home and think “Boy, I bet this _______ would sure taste better/different in _______.” Like, eating pasta in Italy is probably a totally different experience than, say, a trip to the Olive Garden or having a burrito at Taco Bell versus eating one in Mexico or Spain. Of course, I love to eat and can plan a whole vacation around dining venues. In fact, one of the first things I do when I find out I’m going somewhere new is see what kind of local food they have and which restaurants are available nearby…and then I make as many reservations as I can. Not that I’m not excited about the rest of the trip, but food really does create strong memories of places for me. Eric and I don’t sit around saying “Remember that church we went to that had the gold ceiling?” It’s more like “Remember the church with all the gold ceilings where we had that awesome tiramisu in the café before we left?” If that’s how conversations about your travels are, or you just love good food, this entry is for you.
Shereen Travels Cheap is featured on Ebates! This is really exciting, since Ebates has a huge audience, but I guess all my posts are exciting to me. If you or someone you know is interested in taking a destination holiday this year (or any other year) please take a look and pass it on via Facebook, Twitter or email. Thanks for the support!
Where are some of your favorite food memories from? Are they from Michelin-starred restaurants in big cities or are they cheap plates you picked up on the street at a food cart? I’ve had good and bad food at both expensive restaurants and cheap food stalls. Of course, the good food will stick with you no matter what, even if you can’t remember the name of where you got it, but bad food can really ruin a trip, especially if you paid an arm and a leg for it. 
Four years ago we took our honeymoon in London and Paris. We had heard so much about how bad the food was in England and how awesome it was in France and we didn’t really make too many plans for food before we got there. We figured we would find something good no matter where we went. Unfortunately, the best thing we had to eat in France was a ham and cheese baguette we got at a kiosk near Notre Dame and everything we ate in London was delicious, except for one meal, which we pretty much knew was going to be less than stellar. So, now I always say “research and reserve”. If you can’t reserve, then do your research, that way you won’t spend a million dollars on food that sucks. Keep a list handy with you on your travels of the preferred dining venues near your sightseeing locations each day, just in case. You’ll be prepared; as we will be next time we visit.
Don’t forget to “like” Shereen Travels Cheap if you’re on Facebook. There is a giveaway in progress right now and more will follow. Because they are based on member numbers, suggest Shereen Travels Cheap to all your friends, too!
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When you think of places that are famous for food, do you long to go there like I do?
For the love of Cod! Iceland is #1 in cod production in the world. They fish extensively for it and create amazing dishes with it, too. Not only that, some Icelandic restaurants use geothermal vents for power and cook exclusively with the steam produced by these natural wonders. Amazingly, the heat from the vents can start water boiling in about eight seconds. Way to use the earth for economical and eco-friendly energy! If you’re a lover of cod (and other seafood), Reykjavik is always a fantastic destination to visit. It may be cold and snowy, but the landscape is beautiful and the residents are super friendly. While the restaurants may be on the expensive side, you can find lodging for relatively cheap and you can walk all over the city. You can always rent an apartment or house and save on your food budget and just go out for lunch or dinner each day. That way, you’ll be able to do more things than expected and also try the local cuisine without breaking the bank.
  • Here’s a wonderful option: Luna Hotel Apartments offer the best of both worlds. Affordable accommodations and kitchenette facilities in each room. You can rent a studio for 80 Euros or less, depending on the season, and with this coupon from TripAdvisor, you can save 20% off your room rates with stays of 3 nights or more.The Luna Hotel Apartments are located in a quiet neighborhood, but still within walking distance of the city center and the main shopping district. It was rated 4.5 out of 5 by travelers on TripAdvisor and ranks #1 on their popularity index of all the B&Bs/Inns in Reykjavik. 20% off is good on bookings through March.

Ever wonder what your suitcase has picked up on your travels. You may not want to know, but Budget Travel asks some experts how to clean it.

Mamma Mia! Baklava, dolmas, spanikopita and oh so much more! If you love spinach, feta, lamb and all other things Greek, why not go straight to the source? It’s the only way to have authentic Grecian cuisine short of adopting a Greek family as your own and learning the kitchen secrets from YaYa (that’s the grandmother). If you can’t wait for the Greek festival to come back each year, start planning your vacation to Greece. You’re due.
In fact, if you want to be right in the middle of Athens, but not really RIGHT in the middle of Athens (all the beauty and convenience of the city without all the crowds and noise), think about making reservations at the Margi Hotel in Vouliagmeni, Greece. Though hard to pronounce, this great little Athens’ neighborhood features this beautiful hotel close to the Aegean Sea, golf courses, shopping streets and public transport that can take you right into the city center if you choose. Eat and shop to your heart’s content and then come back to Margi to relax by the candlelit pool, one of the numerous cocktail bars or in your super comfortable room. Save 40% off at Travel + Leisure’s Vacationist and get rates as low as $125/night, which includes daily buffet breakfast that’ll rev you up for whatever you have planned each day. Vouliagmeni and the Margi Hotel have something for everyone. Book by midnight on Sunday for this awesome deal. If you don’t have a Vacationist account, it is by invitation-only. Join by clicking here.

Don’t forget to shrink all your liquids to fit in that dreaded 3-1-1 bag (For more on how to pack this more efficiently, check out my previous blog post) for your holiday travel. If you need a travel size of ANYTHING check out Minimus.biz. They have added even more minis to their inventory this week and many other ones are on sale!
Chocolate, chocolate, more chocolate and…cheese? You’ll be anything but neutral when you touch down in the picturesque landscape of Switzerland. Spend your days on the slopes and your evenings drinking hot cocoa by the fire. Stay 7 nights and pay for only 6 with this deal from Switzerland’s Tourism board. With rates as low as $673 per person in the quaint town of Interlocken and other Swiss cities. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about Switzerland and what it has to offer, as well as browse the many travel deals for the winter season.
To Be Continued…

Want to make reservations for restaurants ahead of time and get something else out of it besides a table? Use Open Table and Top Table to find restaurants in all price ranges and read diner reviews. Book your reservations right online and have details sent to your email inbox. When you complete a reservation (you check in at the front desk of the venue and give them your name) you receive points in your account. Once you reach 2,000 points, you are eligible for a free dining certificate. It gets you $20 off your next dine out at a participating restaurant.

Are you still looking for that perfect gift for the person who loves to travel? If it’s the lady in your life, why not get her some stylish travel clothing? En-day is a wonderful site that carries a select few pieces of truly versatile travel pieces for women. They come in beautiful colors, each piece coordinates with others and they are made from durable, odor-resistant fabric. I own several pieces myself and still have others on my wish list. You can even throw in some fun extras, like their “beauty pucks”, so they look refreshed wherever they are in their travels or the compressed panty collection. A 7-day set of thong underwear that can fit right in your pocket. They fit nicely in a stocking, too!
Wish there were even more deals in this blog? Well, you can subscribe to The #traveldeals Daily, too, and get a newspaper page full of travel deals from Tweeters like me.
Don’t forget to watch this space for new posts and updates on featured posts by ME! Yeah, yeah, I’m all about myself sometimes…but still, don’t forget to check out these great posts I did for the following websites (which you should also take a look at, because they were awesome enough to let me post for them and because they are totally useful).

And next week (tentatively), Shereen Travels Cheap will be featured on My Itchy Travel Feet, a great blog for baby boomers, but really informative no matter what your age is.

Anything I haven’t covered that you’re longing to see? Well, don’t be shy! Take the anonymous poll and let me know where it is you want to go or learn more about! If you don’t care about being invisible, you can take it anyway, or you can come post on my Facebook wall and ask me questions. I LOVE feedback of any kind.

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