Archive for March, 2012

5 Stunning Mediterranean Seaside Bars

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on March 28th, 2012

photo courtesy of Akron Bar & Restaurant

Picture yourself lying on a chaise lounge surrounded by soft, golden sand and listening to the sound of aquamarine water gently lapping at this secluded stretch of beach. In the distance you can see Easter-egg toned houses clinging to the sides of the bluffs that flank the remote cove. You have worked incredibly hard all winter and are now rewarding yourself with a well earned vacation set along the Mediterranean Coast. Can it get any better than this? Of course it can! An ice cold beverage delivered via towel-side bar service completes the scene. Read on to discover the following 5 breathtaking locations and their equally as impressive seafront watering holes.

photo courtesy of Buzz Bar

Buzz Beach Bar & Seafood Grill | Oludeniz Beach, Turkey

Overlooking a tranquil bay on Turkey’s southwestern shore is Buzz Beach Bar & Seafood Grill. Sip a Frozen Bellini, which is a mouthwatering blend of vodka, peach schnapps, grenadine, fresh peach and bubbly champagne. Periodically, a paraglider will float down from above and land in the light, golden sand of Ideniz Beach; this little strip of paradise has been consistently voted as one of the world’s top 5 beaches. Kick your feet back and settle into a comfy, cushioned seat on their terrace or rooftop deck.

photo courtesy of La Caseta

La Caseta del Migdia | Barcelona, Spain

Often described as ‚Äúone of Barcelona’s best kept secrets,‚Äù La Caseta del Migdia rests atop Montjuic and features breathtaking vistas of the city and sea. You really have to know about this place in order to find it, as it is tucked away and in between towering pine trees and the Montjuic Castle. The establishment‚Äôs seating is entirely al fresco and is only open during the summer months. La Caseta is the perfect place to escape the sizzling heat and watch the sun set. Depending on the day of the week (check their program for more details), the intoxicating sound of live Flamenco or samba music fills the air.

photo courtesy of La Entropista

Absinthe Bar (La Balade) | Antibes, France

This little, green gem isn’t far from the beach in Antibes, France, and La Balade is such a unique find that I had to include it in this list. The absinthe bar is situated under an olive oil store in a charming, stone comprised cellar. The emerald toned, anise flavored liquor that they serve was made popular by artists such as Van Gogh and Hemmingway, and it was often referred to in literature as the green fairy. Absinthe was outlawed in the early 1900’s because of the bad publicity it received. There were some extreme accounts where the consumption of impure absinthe was said to bring on psychosis. Today, the spirit has to pass strict government regulations pertaining to the level of thujone (the psychotropic ingredient) it is permitted to contain. The absinthe of these times is considered to be more of a high proofed alcohol than anything else. Cool off from a sweltering summer day and let the Bohemian ambience of La Balade take you back to the artist’s world of the early 19th century.

photo courtesy of Akron Bar & Restaurant

Akron Bar & Restaurant | Paleokastritsa, Corfu Island, Greece

Open until sunset, Akron Bar & Restaurant looks out over fine, white sand that encompasses a lovely cove. The patio is enveloped with lemon and olive trees, and it opens up onto a serene, private beach. This little piece of sheer bliss is the ideal place to savor a glass of wine while the sun fades on the horizon.

Bar Ristorante Vertigo | Lerici, Italy

The quaint fishing village of Lerici is based along the alluring Italian Riviera’s shoreline. Bar Ristorante Vertigo sports a veranda, which is shaded by a canopy of oak trees. Guests claim that they feel as though they are lounging in a tree house. The pristine beach is a short walk from here; just head down a flight of stairs that you will find at the front of the terrace. Throughout the warmer months of the year, you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail while listening to live music on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

All of these fine establishments have the following essential characteristics: stunning Mediterranean backdrops, proximity to shimmering greenish-blue sea, and impeccably positioned waterfront locations. The vacation of a life time awaits you. Why not begin looking at airfare for flights to Barcelona today?

 

 

Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette)

By 1800FlyEurope in World Cuisine Wednesdays | on March 21st, 2012

World Cuisine Wednesday

When I think back to the amazing semester that I spent studying in Spain years ago, memories of chatting with friends around a small patio table set on a cobblestone sidewalk and sipping a refreshing glass of wine instantly rush to mind. What a delightful surprise it was to learn that many of the privately owned cafes/bars in Seville offered a free tapa (similar to a single size serving/appetizer) with your drink!

One of the most common pintsize meals that are brought to the table is the tortilla de patatas (Spanish Omelette); this is a simple potato and egg dish that is cut into bite size squares, and then each piece is garnished with a toothpick. It may be served room temperature or warm. If you would like the tortilla to go, the bocadillo (sandwich made with fresh baguette) is a great companion to bring with you on a train ride.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes

You will need:

  • Medium size, nonstick frying pan
  • Large colander

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 5 Medium Potatoes (such as russet or Yukon)
  • Optional: 1 Medium Onion (white or red are fine)

Note: Often the tortilla is prepared without onion but if you like onions, you won’t regret adding it to this recipe.

  • About 1 cup of olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • Optional: baguette

Directions:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them in half, lengthwise. Then, slice into 1/8 thick pieces, or use a mandolin.
  2. Peel and dice the onion.
  3. Crack the eggs, mix well, and set aside the large bowl for the time being.
  4. Heat the oil on medium-low. Add the potatoes first, and make sure the olive oil almost covers them. (It may seem like a lot of oil, but don’t worry, you will be straining most of it out after this step.) Sprinkle a dash of salt to taste. You don’t want to cook the spuds too quickly or brown them (if it can be helped). Traditionally, the Spanish tortilla isn’t prepared with golden brown potatoes or caramelized onions. Continue to fry for about 5 minutes and add the onions. Regularly stir the mixture, and it should take about 10 minutes (total) to reach the desired consistency. It’s ok if the potatoes break apart, and you will know that they are ready when a piece can easily be split with a spatula.
  5. Remove the pan from the burner and carefully drain the contents into the large colander over another pan. Dispose of the oil properly, don’t dump the oil down the kitchen sink.
  6. Stir the potatoes and onions into the large bowl of eggs.
  7. You will use the same skillet to fry up the tortilla. The pan should have enough oil left in it from the previous steps, but add a little more if the interior surface looks dry. Keep the heat set on medium-low. Pour the ingredients into the pan, level and smooth out the potatoes so that they evenly cover the skillet bottom. Allow the tortilla to cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the center is cooked all the way through (the egg should be firm and should spring back to form when pressed). Use the spatula to check that the base of the omelette is golden brown in color.
  8. Remove from heat and place a large plate over the top of the pan. Flip the tortilla onto the plate. Make sure that the skillet is well covered with the olive oil, and slide the omelette from the plate back into the frying pan.
  9. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the other side is nicely browned.
  10. Serve as a hearty sandwich on a piece of baguette, or cut the tortilla into ¬Ω inch squares and place a toothpick in the center of each cube.

Impress your guests and pair this tapa with a side dish aceitunas (olives) and a large pitcher of Sangria. What finer way is there to start off a dinner/garden party this spring? Except for maybe booking flights to Seville for yourself, family and friends to experience the real deal in Spain. However, if I shut my eyes for a moment, take a sip of sangria, and listen to my friends’ jubilant chitchat in the background, my imagination can sweep me right back to an open-air café in Spain, and I have the next best thing.

 

 

Leaping Leprechauns! | 5 Misconceptions

By 1800FlyEurope in These Five Things | on March 12th, 2012

Each year millions of people in the U.S. celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and wearing something green is the most common way we pay tribute to this holiday. However, there are also parades, green tinted beer, restaurants spotlight Irish cuisine, pubs play traditional music, and shamrock and leprechaun decorations are plastered everywhere.  As with most any event in the U.S., we take the Irish theme to an extreme.

Green Attire

Tales of leprechauns have been the subject of Gaelic mythology for over 1000 years, and it depends on the region in Ireland, of where the story originated, as to what color the wee fellow might be wearing. Before the 20th century, he was commonly described as being dressed in red.

Source of the Pot O’ Gold

If you follow a rainbow, you may find a pot of gold buried at the end, but how did the leprechauns obtain such treasures? These pintsize guys are workaholics, and they earn their coinage from the fairies.¬† You won’t catch them on a spending spree either; they hoard their earnings away in a large, hidden crock.

Shoemaking Industry

What exactly do leprechauns do for a living?¬† Listen for a faint tapping sound, and you just might come across one busily making shoes.¬† It is said that this is the only way to find the miniature cobblers.¬† Should you be fortunate enough to discover the little guy, don’t take your eyes off him, or he will disappear into thin air.¬† As will your chances of following him back to his crock of gold.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People

It wasn’t until Walt Disney came back from a trip to Ireland and created a movie featuring leprechauns in 1959 that they became part of U.S. pop culture. Before Darby O’ Gill and the Little People, these men of short stature were just one of the many types of fairies depicted in Gaelic folklore.

Leprechauns and St. Patrick’s Day

Prior to the debut of the Disney movie, there appears to have been no affiliation between leprechauns and St. Patrick’s Day. Once again, the correlation between the two seems to have come from a U.S. interpretation of Irish tradition and mythology.

I sincerely hope that the Irish do not take any offense of our rendering of St. Patrick’s Day and leprechauns. Though we may be misinformed about some of their true meanings, we are simply celebrating the country’s heritage and that of our relatives/ancestors. We love Ireland and the Irish culture, and this day of festivities allows us the opportunity to toast to them. Why not learn more about Gaelic mythology first hand by booking some flights to Dublin and visiting the National Leprechaun Museum?

 

Love it or Leave it? | The New Routemaster

By 1800FlyEurope in Travel News | on March 6th, 2012

photo courtesy Magnus D

London’s New Double-Decker Bus

What does the image of a red double-decker bus bring to mind? London, of course! Unfortunately, the vintage buses had to be phased out of commission in 2005 because they could not accommodate for passengers who needed wheelchair access. After these vehicles were removed from service, the city quickly realized that it had lost a piece of nostalgia, and two Heritage Routes were implemented for the classic Routemaster, while making other commuter options available to the public as well.

What is a Routemaster?

Double-decker buses were a common sight on the streets of London after WWII, but it is the Routemaster model that became the famous image associated with the capital of England and the United Kingdom today. In comparison to the earlier versions, this one weighed less, was easier to operate, had more passenger seats, and boasted a rear platform so that people could hop on and hop off en route.

The debut of the new Routemaster

photo courtesy Mirka23

On February 27th of this year the new and improved Routemaster was introduced to Londoners. It is the first of eight to hit the pavement; the additional seven buses will be out and running by this summer. Like the original, the new double-decker is the traditional bright red color, has two levels, and totes the open platform to board from the back of the bus. This Routemaster looks like an ultra-modern rendering of the original. The differences don’t stop here. This one has three doors, provides access and space for wheelchairs, includes two staircases, and is super fuel efficient.  

What’s not to like?

The cost of these streamlined buses is of some concern, coming with a whopping £1.4m (each) price tag. It is being sized up to the classic Routemaster’s rate of £190,000 per unit. An initial impression of this massive price difference may have you seeing red flags, but in my opinion, the cost difference is like comparing a commercial plane from the 1960’s to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The beloved original Routemaster was retired from service because it couldn’t meet all of its passengers’ needs.

Double the love

The return of the dual-decked Routemaster has Londoners bidding adieu to the bendy-bus. I do not think the latter will be missed. Something about spotting a red double-decker just makes you smile. I know that I would be extremely disappointed, if after purchasing roundtrip flights to London, to discover that this piece of the city’s heritage was no longer rolling down the streets. What do you think? Will you embrace the new bus or will you turn your back on it?

 

 

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Fare Type Round Trip     One Way
Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11