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Where to Eat in Venice

Where to Eat in Venice:  Sole with lemon and spinach at Local
Where to Eat in Venice: Sole with lemon and spinach at Local

When deciding where to eat in Venice, my husband and I first defaulted to the idea that we’ve never had a bad meal in Italy. Then, on our first day, we encountered a mediocre lunch at a pizzeria. Although we sat outside on a glorious day, the pizza might as well been made in the United States. We vowed to be more discriminating for the rest of our trip. As a result, we found some wonderful places to eat.

Best restaurant for foodies: Local

Where to eat traditional dishes: El Magazen

Favorite gelateria: Suso

Best casual pasta restaurant: 6342 Alla Corte

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Best Things to Do in Venice

Best Things to Do in Venice: View from the boat entrance to the Hotel Ai Cavalieri

As with most European cities, some of the best things to do in Venice involve visiting iconic sites. Think the Bridge of Sighs. And the Rialto Bridge. St. Mark’s Square and the Basilica. Beyond those, however, this island city offers a lot more to do, especially if you stay overnight.

Venice has a reputation for being one of the most romantic cities in the world, and for good reason. The absence of motor vehicles creates an unusual quiet, even with the throngs of tourists. Water laps at buildings, and the meandering narrow streets become a delightful puzzle. The distinctive architecture creates a beauty that defines Venice. Taken all together, you can feel as though you’ve fallen back to another era.

Most Surprising: How every building is at water level

Most Iconic View: the Grand Canal, from the Rialto Bridge

Best Museum: the Doge’s Palace

Favorite Tour: Cicchetti and wine walking tour

Best Restaurant for Foodies: Ristorante Local

Best gelato: Suso

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Where to Eat Tapas in Barcelona, Spain

Where to Eat Tapas in Barcelona:  Dining Outside
Where to Eat Tapas in Barcelona: Dining Outside at Cuitat Comtal.

On a recent trip to this Catalonian city, I tracked down where to eat tapas in Barcelona. Although we usually seek out some upscale restaurants in a given city, this time we opted for more casual dinners of tapas. Of course, we often added a bottle of cava or a carafe of sangria or a glass of Priorat or Rioja. Life was good in Barcelona!

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Best Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain

Best Things to Do in Barcelona: Rooftop at Casa Milà
Best Things to Do in Barcelona: Rooftop at Casa Milà

The best things to do in Barcelona range from the ancient to the modern. The Barri Gòtic and its maze of narrow streets harken back to its Roman beginnings while the dramatic glass high-rises near the water scream contemporary architecture. And Gaudì? You cannot escape the city without visiting several of his iconic modernist buildings.

Most iconic sight: the almost-finished Sagrada Familia

Best Itinerary Theme: Visiting everything Gaudì

Best tapas: Ciutat Comtal

Wildest dining experience: El Nacional tapas

Most worthwhile day tour: Mount Serrat

Most disappointing: Not everything is within walking distance

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Where to Eat in Sydney, Australia

Where to Eat in Sydney: Oysters and sparkling wine at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar
Where to Eat in Sydney: Oysters and sparkling wine at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar

During a recent trip to Australia, I narrowed down where to eat in Sydney. I’ve done all the research and the taste-testing for World Oyster readers so that you won’t be disappointed. (Hey, someone had to do it!) All you need to do is read, book, and go.

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Best Things to Do in Sydney, Australia

Best Things to Do in Sydney: view of the city from the Sydney Opera House.
Best Things to Do in Sydney: view of the city from the Sydney Opera House.

When trying to plan the best things to do in Sydney, I found that I had to re-vamp my expectations of visiting an international city. Yes, Sydney has culture and, yes, Sydney has history; however, unlike European cities, you won’t find yourself steeped in the past. Instead, you end up embracing the now.

Most surprising: how the climate allows for outdoor activities, year round.

Best activity for families: visiting the Tarango Zoo

Most iconic sight: the Sydney Opera House

Best walk to get away from the bustle of the city: the Royal Botanical Gardens

Best restaurants for foodies: Silvester’s and Café Sydney

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Where to Eat in Amsterdam

When I visited the Netherlands earlier this year, I wanted to carefully plan where to eat in Amsterdam. Sometimes I chose by location. Other times, I wanted to satisfy my inner foodie. Not familiar with Dutch cuisine, I had no idea what to expect. On my visit I discovered that while Dutch cuisine, even at a Michelin-starred restaurant, embraces different ingredients and styles than I’m used to, the food can be delicious.

You can’t go wrong with any of the below. From Michelin-starred restaurant to casual bar, each offers quintessentially Dutch ingredients prepared in a style unique to the establishment.

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Three Days in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Three Days in Amsterdam:  A hot August day on the canals
Three Days in Amsterdam: A hot August day on the canals

Our three days in Amsterdam, the Netherlands became a whirlwind tour, mostly because, in truth, we had only two-and-a-half days. Plus, we cheated a bit by taking a tour outside of the city. No matter. Our jam-packed itinerary gave us plenty to do and see. I’m amazed by how much we managed to fit into a short period of time.

Best museum: the Rijksmuseum

Best restaurant for foodies: Rijks

Most surprising: the speed and danger of the cyclists whirring down the streets

Favorite out-of-Amsterdam stop: Edam

Most disappointing: The Heineken Experience

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Three Days in Florence, Italy

Three Days in Florence, Italy:  View of the Arno River from the Ponte Vecchio
Three Days in Florence, Italy: View of the Arno River from the Ponte Vecchio

Get on your walking shoes because this week I cover three days in Florence, properly known as Firenze. You will clock some serious distance on foot.

The Centrale, or old city center area, holds all of the interest, with the immense, colored marble Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (better known as the Duomo) dominating it all.

Most iconic sights: Florence, as seen from the Duomo, and the Arno River, as seen from the Ponte Vecchio.

Best secondary church: Santa Croce

Favorite Museum: the Uffizi Gallery

Best foodie activities: comparing gelato across the city and sampling foods in the Mercato Centrale

Local specialities: Florentine steak, Ribollita, Paparadelle al Cinghiale, anything with truffle (tartufo.)

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Two Days in Historic Philadelphia

Two Days in Historic Philadelphia:  Independence Hall
Two Days in Historic Philadelphia: Independence Hall

Two days in historic Philadelphia works well for ambitious tourists like me. Because the historic district is compact enough to sightsee on foot, you can easily hop from one attraction to another. Of course, if you have three days, you’ll be able to see a bit more. And if you really want to see Philadelphia as a whole, including its world-class museums, then you’ll want to add at least another two days.

Most iconic sight: The Liberty Bell

Sight that requires the most planning: Independence Hall

Best Museum: The National Constitution Center

Newest Addition to the District: The Museum of the American Revolution

Best historic district restaurants for foodies: Buddakan and Amada