Christmas Market Cruise along the Rhine

Phew, has it been a hot second since I’ve had a minute to sit down and write and create? This past Christmas Market holiday season I was in Europe for 54 days! What an incredible blessing, I spent several weeks on private small group Christmas Market Tours along the Mosel and one week on a Christmas Market cruise along the Rhine aboard the MS Oscar Wilde of the Riviera River Cruise Fleet.  

I am so excited to share my week on the Rhine exploring this gorgeous ancient river lined with castles, vineyards and sweeping hills. And bonus, it even started to snow while we were sailing. Like a nice little European Snow globe.


We arrived a day early for a pre-stay to visit the Christmas Markets in Cologne and I’m super glad we did because it was a Monday and Mondays are totally not as busy for Christmas Markets as the weekends are. 

Köln got its name for being the first Roman Colony outside of Rome. There is a fantastic Roman-German History Museum in the heart of the city, but it is under construction at the moment so we missed out on having a tour there. But Jon and I went a few years back and I learned all about the Roman occupation and development of this area. 

Cologne is fantastic and has about 9 Christmas Markets to see. When I was living in Germany, I visited every single year and of course, developed a few favorites. 


Christmas Markets in Cologne

Köln Dom Market

Underneath the bastion of the Köln Cathedral is the Dom Market, this is a must and you can’t miss it!  The massive Christmas tree is a highlight for the Dom Market, and the market is massive with a maze of stalls twisting around selling a great assortment of goodies, including from German classics like Käsespätzle (bouncy little egg dumplings tossed in cheese) and French Favorite,  Raclette  (which is stinky Munster cheese melted on bread.) churros, crepes, bratwursts and pork sandwiches abound. Yes, the smells are intoxicating. 

 The next closest Christmas Market in Cologne is the HEINZEL WINTER FAIRYTALE, definitely one of my favorite markets and super easy to get to from the Dom Market as it is just around the corner.

It is definitely one of the prettiest and most decorated markets and has an ice rink right in the center. The little wooden huts are adorned with creative gnomes and wooden carvings of characters from a fairytale it is so cool.

The vendors are a bit similar but they had a few different ones this year including handmade ornaments, a wood carver a jeweler that made authentic and original pieces.



Taste of Italy Group Tour


This market is right in the heart of Neumarkt in Cologne and a little bit of a walk but totally worth it. Considered the contemporary market the houses are brightly lit and resemble a winter wonderland. 

Their vendors range from star lights to Flammkuchen and Smoked Salmon on a wooden plank. The bratwurst stalls about with grilled onions and brotchen and there was even a popular “Käthe Wohlfahrt” little house in the center of the market. 

Harbor Market

One of the tastiest and scrumptious markets is the Harbor Market or as I like to call it the Chocolate Market. Located in Cologne harbor and about a 15 minute walk from the Dom Market, you can enjoy a peaceful stroll along the promenade. 

Harbor Christmas Market along the Rhine

This market also has a Ferris wheel overlooking the Rhine and harbor canals as well as having an international flare. A few vendors there sold Indian Cuisine as well as Argentinian fare. This market has about 70 stalls as well, making it not too shabby. If you need to hop into the Lindt Chocolate Museum to warm up – well that wouldn’t be too bad either.

These are just a few of my favorites in Cologne, you could certainly see more if you add days before or after your cruise. Christmas Markets in Cologne typically stay open until right before Christmas Day.

christmas markets along the rhine


Feet sore? Take the Train

Cologne has this great mini train you can take all over the main town to visit each of the Christmas Markets. In each market, you can find where to pick it up, how much it is and the route. We were thinking of hopping on and trying this, but decided to get our ®FitBit’s charged up instead. If you have kiddos with you or somebody with mobility issues, this is a great idea.


We boarded the riverboat on Tuesday evening and were greeted by attendants eager to grab our luggage and check us in. Check-in was a super easy process and after a quick rest a dinner we made our way to the lounge and had a brief introduction by the Boat Tour Directors, Diogo, and Hugo.

Cologne at Night from the Boat

We sailed through the night to our first destination Rüdesheim.


I love this little river wine town. Jon introduced it to me back in the fall when he was serving overseas again while in Wiesbaden. It truly is enchanting, with cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, wine tastings in cellars, and hillsides covered in vineyards, so of course, I couldn’t wait to return. Riviera River Cruises partners with local tour guides and tour companies who were just amazing. I’ll talk more about our tours coming up. 

Christmas Market in Rüdesheim

The Christmas Market in Rudesheim is on practically every street, right off the dock and so easy to get too. There were very interesting and different vendors here as well including a vendor selling sheepskin and wool items in a yurt. I’ll tell you what it was super warm in there and I didn’t want to leave. Part of the Market skirts the river’s edge making it really easy to get and forth to the boat.


Our next city on the tour was Koblenz. This confluence town (Latin is Koblenz)  has been split many times between France and Germany. . A story and struggle of power and control of the river and this town.

It is such a pretty town filled with incredible architecture of the baroque style. Our local tour led us to the Basilica St. Castor, the Deutsches Eck (or the German Corner) represents a statue of King Wilhelm II  overlooks the Rhine and is a symbol of refuge and a memorial to the King who helped unite the two borders. There’s a funny story that goes along with the tour of why the statue is facing the way it is – but you’ll have to take the tour to find out. 


MAY 19 – 27, 2023
The Christmas Markets in Koblenz

The Christmas Markets of Koblenz are also in the heart of their old town and were filled with yummy stalls of Christmas treats and German favorites. One of my favorites is the local Krebbelcher pancakes or potato pancakes and you can order them with applesauce or a creamy ranch garlic sauce. YUM! Take it all in and remember, each market may seem similar you have to pay close attention to the differences too. It’s fun to research before you go.


I visited the city of Bonn in 1988. It has been a long time since I saw this gorgeous city. Definitely holds a special place in my heart. The university town of Beethoven’s birth is filled with baroque buildings, Beethoven’s birthplace, after our local tour, we headed to the museum and enjoyed a quick tour of where Beethoven spent his first 16 years of life.

Christmas Markets in Bonn

The Munsterplatz Square in Bonn like this magical city if filled with amazing color, sites and smells. With the backdrop of the baroque city hall and main town square, you can imagine yourself in the 1800s enjoying hot gluhwein like Beethoven and his family did. Every day there is a musical concert that takes place and although we weren’t there at night we enjoyed walking through the city from market to market.

There are more than 180 beautiful hut-style stalls with Christmas decor and Santa on top of the Stalls.

Christmas Market Tips

First of all, wear good shoes, you will walk a lot. Warm-lined boots too for the cobblestone! 

Also, be prepared to have Euros, some vendors do take visa, but most prefer cash. There are ATMs throughout the cities, just please don’t ever use the exchange EC machines, they offer the worst exchange and also charge a fee on top of that. Avoid these like the plague. 

Follow the illuminated lights. In several towns, you just need to follow the stars, and lights and they will lead you to the path of the Christmas Markets! Follow the light. HA!

About the BOAT

First of all, the staff was incredibly amazing. Friendly, professional and many were from Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Shout out to Daniel, Maria, Milena (from Serbia) our housekeeper Alona and of course Ivan at the Bar. Everyone was kind, generous and knew their jobs very well. I had the great opportunity to meet Diogo and have a great interview with him to talk about the ships highlights. Be sure to check that out soon on my YouTube channel.

Diogo and Hugo

We booked a Ruby-level room on the Oscar Wilde which is nice size cruise room and we were centrally located on the ship too. All middle and upper deck cabins have floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with a Juliet balcony and of course, we had gorgeous views of the river and coastline.

The bathrooms were huge and had marble floors Villeroy and Boch sinks as well as upgraded amenities in our room including coffee and tea service.


The Bistro is a boutique-type dining option on board. With a different menu and offering than the main dining room. You do need reservations for this restaurant which offers a different view off the ship as well as while we were sailing. 

The ship also has vegetarian options available as well.

All meals on board all included AND because Riviera is an English fleet on one day, you will experience High Tea! Omgoodness, this tasty and incredibly beautiful display is a presentation all unto itself. We thoroughly enjoyed High Tea on the boat.


Local tour guides – Hildrudt Bonn Tour Guide – supports local communities and the economy with interesting stories, myths, and legends of the town. Riviera partners with guides who are passionate about sharing their city or town with others. 

Are you Interested in a European River Cruise? 

We have ONE MORE cabin left for our small group for the popular

Blue Danube River Cruise April 14 – 21,2023 

This spring we will enjoy another Riviera River Cruise departing and returning from Budapest Hungary. This European River Cruise is so popular and there’s a reason why, we will stop in Bratislava, Slovakia, Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, and more. If you are interested please let me know soon! Flights are still available and I would love to have you join our really fun group!

When should I book my River Cruise?

When should you book your cruise? Well, before COVID, I would tell people to just sit back and see if there would be a special, not anymore. Holy cow! Talk about your revenge travel! According to this Forbes article written last June, people are READY to travel. After the January 2023 wave season, we just had I can tell you that is so true. So when should you book one? When you think about it! Mostly because it will probably not go down in price or have limited availability if you wait. Riviera River Cruises can ONLY be booked through a Travel Agent! Plus, we will take care of you from flights, pre- and post- stays!

Thinking of traveling yourself? Click on my New Traveler Profile Form Below to get started with a consultation!

Looking forward to the NEXT CRUISE!

My small group was so delightful on this Christmas Market Cruise and we had such a great time connecting, enjoying the ship, ambiance, and of course shopping. If you would like to go on a CHRISTMAS MARKET CRUISE IN 2023 please let me know, email me at

It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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Visiting Ireland! Dublin and Galway

Visiting Ireland, Dublin and Galway this past fall for a quick weekend adventure with my friend Candy was a blast! Not only did I have the opportunity to re-visit Dublin but this time, we took a jaunt over to Galway on the west coast. This was a great opportunity to discover more because I will be taking a small group tour to Ireland this spring!

Most Americans who have Irish heritage at some point want to visit Ireland. I absolutely love this country. This was my fourth visit. Not only do I share an Irish background (on my maternal side) but the friendliness, natural beauty and heart of its people is what I identify with the most. Here are a few highlights from our short weekend while visiting Ireland.

Getting there

Taking hops across the EU continent is quite different than hopping around America, that is for sure. On a whim, Candy gave me a shout out to take a trip to visit Ireland this past September. For a flight to Ireland from Germany on short notice, it was about €200 on Aerlingus that included my luggage.

When I was living in Germany from 2014 to 2019 taking “hopper” flights on smaller airlines was very affordable. Sometimes these flights sang to the tune of €36 round trip but we all knew that wouldn’t last forever.

After the pandemic and a shift in tourism economy prices it has jumped a bit. Thankfully, it wasn’t too awfully bad. AerLingus is an official airline of Ireland and I also enjoy Eurowings (a branch of Lufthansa.) These are both reliable and trustworthy airlines if you need to fly in and out of Ireland from mainland Europe. There are also flights from Ireland to the states as well.

Getting Around

How to get around when you are visiting Ireland can be one of the most stressful elements of your trip. However, I have discovered there are several ways to travel around this country including public transportation that is really quite lovely. Candy and I hopped the bus from the airport to our hotel and then also again from Dublin to Galway.

When you are visiting a European country, public transportation (bus/train) can be a bit nerve wracking too, thankfully we all speak English so we had a slight advantage on this trip.

Here are a few tips to consider when you take public transportation in Ireland.

  1. Plan ahead – prior to your Irish adventure take a look at the different routes you might be interested in.
  2. Book On-line – post COVID travel sometimes requires not only printed tickets but tickets that are scannable or through an app. Check this out before you travel.
  3. Enjoy the Ride – we took advantage of the Eireagle from Dublin to Galway and also the City Link from the Dublin Airport to downtown Dublin. This was an extremely reliable and safe way to see the country.

Traveling in 2023?

Highlights in Dublin

This being my third time visiting Ireland, I had a few ideas of where we were going to stay and what we wanted to see in Dublin. Candy is as much of a travel addict as I am. She had done some research too.

Ha’Penny Bridge

The Temple Bar area is one of the most beloved while visiting Ireland so I would be remiss if I left this area out. There are a plethora of YouTube videos, Pinterest posts, etc. touting this “party area” of Dublin. You will have your choice of pubs to choose from.

Dublin Medieval Castle

The forboding Dublin Castle and fortress just a short walk from The Temple Bar area is worth the trip. If you are a castle lover, the history is quite amazing. Only guided tour tickets are available on the day of arrival. If you purchase advance tickets (these will be self-guided only)

Originally built in 1204 for the King of England its imposing stature within this modern city is astonishing. A major fire broke out in 1684 although much of the Viking structure stayed intact. The grand courtyard which anyone can walk through looks almost the same as it did in 1204.

If you are a history buff, you will geek out on this tour. The end of British rule in Ireland began in 1922 when Michael Collins became the new electorate of the independent state.

Ha’Penny Bridge

This iconic pedestrian bridge in Dublin is really beautiful both day and night. You will definitely want to stop and take a few photos. This bridge was built in the 1800s to cross the River Liffey for pedestrians and is made of cast iron. There are lots of seagulls so be mindful. 😉

TRAVEL TIP: The best place to take pictures of the Ha’Penny Bridge is along the O’Connell Bridge just one block away.

General Post Office

The General Post Office or (GPO) is FREE to visit in Dublin and has an incredible history. Depending on your level of historical interest, you may decide to spend one or two hours touring the office. It is still a working post office, however, so be sure to sign up for a tour.

O’Connell Monument

As you are walking along the streets of Dublin while visiting Ireland, you will notice monuments and statues of Irish heroes and activists everywhere. David O’Connell was an Irish political activist and co-founder of the IRA (Irish Republican Army.)

Known as the “Liberator” and securing the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, He successfully campaigned for the freedoms of the rights of Irish Catholics. There are many monuments around Dublin in honor of David O’Connell. O’Connell street has been a street of commerce, trade, and community for decades.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is a magnanimous structure that is incredible to visit. It’s awe-inspiring spires and gothic design are breathtaking. Visiting the cathedral is quite easy, however if you would like a formal tour, I would recommend purchasing advance tickets. There is daily entrance into the cathedral however to understand what you are looking at and its history, I would recommend a tour. They run throughout the day and quite often, so be sure to ask if you call ahead.

Christ’s Church Cathedral

Is the United Church of the Dioceses of Dublin and is quite a unique structure, you can’t help but notice in Dublin. The building connects to St. Michael’s Tower, however, it is temporarily closed.


Absolutely one of the MUST-Do’s while visiting Ireland is to experience the LIVE MUSIC scene. Candy and I found a few places. Our first experience was at The Old Stovehouse (see below) where we also grabbed a bite to eat as well. More info will be in the vlog on my YouTube Channel.

Pints of Cider and Music

Darkey Kelly’s

One of the best-known pubs in Dublin for traditional Irish music and is located in one of the oldest parts of Dublin we well. Darkey Kelly was a woman believed to be involved in witchcraft but recent information proves her innocence. This was a very cool bar and its history is really morbid and quite shocking. Murder, serial killings, and more. Candy and I really enjoyed the live Irish music here and a few pints of cider.

Here’s a map for two days of discovery below to help you plan your itinerary! Be sure to follow me on Wanderlog

Map created with Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android
Highlights in Galway

Galway has had a lot of press lately thanks to Ed Sheeran and his “Galway girl.” However, in the travel and tourism world, Galway has been well-known for quite some time.

Quay Street & Buttermilk Lane – The Latin Quarter

Strolling up and down bustling Quay Street is so much fun. Filled with shops, restaurants, museums, and churches, Quay Street seems to always be busy. Definitely carve out enough time to visit, shop, and grab a bite to eat. I would definitely say this is an huge attraction to Galway.

Saint Nicholas Collegiate Church

Medieval Church is located in the heart of Galway. Founded in 1320 this Anglican Church with humility in design and structure had a few famous visitors like Oliver Cromwell and Christopher Columbus. St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church was a fun visit for Candy and me, there is a very old walled-in area of the church where you can totally feel the medieval vibes. We even enjoyed a private tour as well. (see more in the vlog)

We had the most amazing tour of the Church. Check out the vlog coming out soon.

Spanish Arch & South Park

As you explore Galway make your way to the Spanish Arch and South Park. Maybe you’ll want to grab some fish and chips and pop a squat at the park. From this park, you will be able to watch the boats come in and out of the harbor. Maybe you’ll want to sing a version of “Brandy, You’re a fine girl.” For some reason, when I am in a European harbor town like this one, I start humming that tune.

Trip map created using Wanderlog, a road trip planner app on iOS and Android
Surprises in Galway & Dublin

While we were in Galway, it was fun getting a glimpse at one of the CIE Coaches that was on tour. I am proud to be partnering with CIE for my upcoming 2023 Irish Adventure tour around the country. CIE has been in business for over 90 years! Hard to believe.

Fish and Chips

One of our favorite specialties in Ireland is Fish and Chips. Candy now lives in Italy and had been craving this classic dish so we became inspired to try as many as we could, from east to west. From Dublin to Galway, visiting Ireland requires at least one sampling of fish and chips(fries.) Here are a few we sampled…


The Old Stovehouse in Dublin – our first stop in Dublin was in the Temple Bar district. We were looking for excellent fish and chips and live music. We found both of them.

Another visit was to the famous Leo Burdock Traditional Fish & Chips. Thankfully, we arrived right at opening so our fish and chips were not only hot and fresh, delicious too. The first in line we grabbed our hot meal in a bag and found a nice park bench nearby. If you are looking for a traditional Irish experience find a location in Dublin and enjoy.


Our day trip to Galway would not have been complete had we not found a great Fish and Chips restaurant here as well. Along the famous Quay Street is the Quay Street Kitchen. Maybe it was because we were a stone’s throw from the sea or maybe it was because this nautical town embodies Irish sailor life, but this was my favorite fish and chips this trip to Ireland. Fresh herbs and spices, tartar sauce that was more a remoulade sauce and excellent chips (fries.) We enjoyed with a great cider because Candy and I aren’t Guinness drinkers but love a good cider.

So come to Ireland!

Hopefully this blog has wetted your appetite to take a hop across the pond. Now is a great time to visit! If I can help you plan an adventure or you would like to join my group this spring, either way, Ireland is calling. Erin go bragh or Ireland Forever! Come learn more, see more, have fun and enjoy the adventure!

It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky! Home of Bourbon, Mohammad Ali, Jennifer Lawrence (one of my favorites), the Kentucky Derby, riverboats, baseball bats, great eats, and more. Welcome to the Bluegrass State. This was our first trip to Louisville this past November and after our visit to Lexington last year, I knew we would return to Kentucky for another visit. I really love this state. So we headed up north from Alabama to see what tastes and treasures await us.

Louisville has an interesting history. Located on the Ohio River, Native American tribes of Cherokee, Arapaho, Iroquois and the Shawnee lived here prior to the 1850s when settlers came to the area to trade and move west. Considered to be founded by George Rogers Clark (brother of William Clark of Lewis & Clark Expedition.)

Jon and I made a trip to Louisville, Kentucky for the long weekend and here are a few things I wanted to share. Travel tips for what we did, where we stayed, the restaurants we enjoyed, some Bourbon, our visit to Churchill Downs and surprises we didn’t expect.

Where we stayed in Louisville

Jon just finished a very long time overseas staying in Hilton Hotels for work, so we found ourselves using the loyalty program at the Embassy Suites in Louisville. We both prefer this type of hotel when staying with a chain because it simulates apartment living. Every room is a suite.

The sleek decor with water features greets you as you enter the lobby. Despite being in an older, historical building, the interior is quite modern with everything convenient for a short stay.

The hotel has a great location right on 4th Street and is within walking distance of many of the museums, the visitor’s center, and tons of restaurants. The front desk and reception staff were quite personable and told us about the complimentary daily breakfast that was served from 6:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. We enjoyed some omelettes made-to-order on Sunday morning. The buffet was also filled with pancakes, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, french toast, pastries, fresh fruit, coffee, and tea.

Across the street was the Seelbach Hilton Hotel. The Seelbach has a spooky past and present and Jon and I hopped over for a few drinks Saturday night too at the Old Seelbach Bar. The inside of the Seelbach is just gorgeous with baroque style design reminding me of many buildings I have seen in Europe. The grand staircase and lobby area are exquisite and eye-catching. You will be snapping tons of photos.

The Old Seelbach Bar has a fun drink menu with several pages of Bourbon. If you are a Bourbon drinker, you will not be disappointed. Enjoy.

Where to EAT in Louisville?

The Brown Hotel

If you are in Louisville for an overnight or for longer, then undoubtedly you will have to dine at the famous Brown Hotel. A visit to The Brown Hotel will introduce you to the famous Mr. Brown. Entrepreneur, businessman, and Louisville lover. Named one of the Historic Hotels of America, it has survived economic hardships, and floods, and still is an amazing architectural gem to witness.

TRAVEL TIP: The Hot Brown – this late-night dinner snack was created by a tired Chef with ingredients left in the kitchen for weary dancers who partied into the night. Now a traditional dish served at the Kentucky Derby and synonymous with the event, I can attest it will stick to your ribs.

Jon and I also enjoyed a traditional bread pudding and Derby Pie. If you love chocolate, you will love Derby Pie. Although most of the recipes I found online looked as if they were just pecan pie with melted chocolate chips, the one I had a The Brown Hotel seemed to pulverize the pecans and the crust was a pecan/graham cracker crust. Just sharing their rendition as I thought it was the best I tasted in Louisville during our stay.

The Old Spaghetti Factory

I know, it is a chain. HA! You don’t usually find me in one of those, but The Old Spaghetti Factory and I go way back and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this restaurant. When Jon and I were stationed in Fort Leonardwood, Missouri on our way from Alabama we stopped in St. Louis with the kiddos for a bite to eat near the Arch. You guessed it. What can I say, I’m nostalgic.

The Old Spaghetti Factory in Louisville, Kentucky is located in the historic Levy Building. I am a sucker for this early American architecture. Built in 1898, this gorgeous building housed an upscale clothing store, The Levy Brothers. This red, Richardsonian Romanesque building was one of the first buildings outfitted with lights and electricity.

Our dining experience at The Old Spaghetti Factory is just plain fun and delicious. Whether you are visiting with families (they easily accommodate larger parties) or a romantic dinner for two, it’s just fun. The restaurant has a unique “trolley dining car” experience and Jon and I were lucky enough to have dinner here.

The menu also has unique unexpected Italian-American treats on it as well, that you won’t find in other chain restaurants. For example, my favorite is the signature dish, Mizithra Pasta. I am a cheese lover! Big time. With a glass of Italian red wine, it is like “happy” in my mouth. YUM!

“Mizithra Cheese and Browned Butter is an old Dussin family recipe. Guss Dussin applied for the first Old Spaghetti Factory’s business and liquor license, and he was told he needed one more item on the menu. So, Guss suggested to his family the beloved Mizithra cheese recipe. And to this day, it’s the most popular dish on our menu.” Compliments of their webpage Here’s a copycat recipe in case you are curious!

Mizithra Pasta

Mizithra or myzithra is Greek whey cheese or milk-whey cheese from sheep or goats, or both. It is sold both as a fresh cheese, similar to Italian ricotta or is a salt-dried grated cheese, similar to Italian ricotta.

The Red Yeti

The Red Yeti is actually not in Louisville, Kentucky but in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Jon and I made our way across the pedestrian bridge to another whole state. More about that below. I really loved this restaurant located just in town in Jeffersonville, just a few feet away from the bridge. I did a quick scan of restaurants around me on Google and what was a good match? You say what?

TRAVEL TIP: If you begin reviewing businesses, places, restaurants, and hotels in Google, they will figure out what your tastes are like and match you up accordingly. It has been so phenomenal. Here is my Google Maps follow page, if you would like to follow me.

The Red Yeti had vegetarian options and my absolute favorite – thank you Chef Mike Bowe was the Kale Salad. I could literally eat this salad every single day. I couldn’t get enough of it. Here’s their Facebook page check out these creative dishes. Jon enjoyed the Brisket Sandwich with cheesy grits, again, they were delicious and kinda similar to the way I make mine, minus my secret ingredient of white pepper. HA! I gotta add that to everything, I’m married to a Missouri man.

Con Huevos Craves

Con Huevos is a local chain around Louisville and just a bit different. It specializes in a Mexican Breakfast Menu, serves Brunch and some really creative options including vegetarian. Since we were within walking distance to the Omni Hotel location on Liberty Street, Jon and I made our way to the Falls City Market.

Located inside the Omni Complex and Apartments this super, hip, cool urban market has just about everything you could think about. I think it is perfect for digital nomads or remote workers.

Jon and I enjoyed a few breakfast sandwiches, the Omni-vore and the Muchos Huevos. The Mexican coffee went perfectly with our savory sandwiches. My Muchos Huevos had scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, avocado, chipotle-chile pepper aioli, and cheese.

They also have Tres-leches pancakes, Huevos Rancheros, street tacos, burritos, a children’s menu, and more.

What to do in Louisville?

On our visit to Louisville, one of the first things we learned was Sunday and Monday. What do I mean by that? Well, several businesses (tastings) and tourist attractions are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so you will want to plan accordingly.

Although this was a little disappointing, I was able to connect with Mike from the Visitor’s Center who hooked us up with other things to do and see. Consequently, I typically think when things like this happen they are meant to be. An opportunity to visit the destination again knowing a little bit more or the places I definitely want to revisit. Additionally, I also feel like the people I was meant to meet were destiny.

Bourbon Tastings

Within walking distance of the Old Town area of Louisville, there are many bourbon tastings. Depending on your preferences, you will probably stumble, ha, onto something you like. Unfortunately, as I said at the top of the article we weren’t able to find any that were open on a Monday. Here are a few in Louisville that you might want to try.

Louisville Slugger Museum

If you are a Basefall fan, an American sports fan, this museum is for you! The greeting of the massive baseball bat at the museum entrance will astound you. Every tourist that was entering or leaving had to get a selfie. Just massive.

To tour the museum, I would encourage you to buy your tickets IN-ADVANCE. Not only will this save you time, but you can tailor your experience. Jon and I enjoyed a quick tour through the gift shop. We were hoping to see several other museums and attractions of Louisville, so we didn’t get to enjoy a tour.

However, I asked several tourists leaving the museum and they remarked that the tour was very good.

Muhammad Ali Museum

Just a short walk back towards town was the Muhammad Ali or Ali Center. Also, unfortunately closed Mondays and Tuesdays. I keep telling myself this is a rookie move for a travel writer, a quick scan through Google could have told me about all these closings. But, this was a quick last-minute trip to Kentucky, no time to research.

They are open during special hours and have military, seniors, and student discount tickets. Do better than me, plan ahead.

Big Four Pedestrian Bridge – Waterfront Park

One of the highlights for me was the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge at Waterfront Park. I love when tourism departments and Economic Development projects come together to bring new life and purpose to old structures. This is was designed in 1990 from an old railway crossing from Louisville to fellow RiverTown Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Along the way to the bridge, we passed a Lincoln Memorial dedicated to our 16th President and his life in Kentucky and connections to Louisville.

The Bridge also has some really cool features like illumination. Non-profit and charitable causes can request light illumination of the bridge too. Super cool! The park also has public restrooms but is only open during the spring and summer seasons. The city estimates over 1.5 million pedestrians and cyclists cross this bridge a year.

Kentucky Derby Museum

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum are located just ten minutes south of the main town of Louisville. The tour of this racetrack made famous for the Kentucky Derby is just fantastic. Jon and I really liked it. I can imagine the tours become busier closer to May when the Derby takes place and the massive parking lot was indicative of how busy it could get.

Visiting during the off-season might be a travel tip. We had no problem parking closer to the main entrance and our tour was not long at all. After walking through the main exhibit center and testing our skills as a jockey, we made our way to the 360-degree, The Greatest Race video. This media presentation was well done and made us feel like we were there during a race.

We enjoyed a guided tour of the race track and learned quite a bit about its past history and today. The Cafe was open and we were told by locals to try the Derby Pie here as well as the Hot Brown. We just didn’t have any more room, our bellies were full from Louisville. You can also enjoy a bourbon tasting here too. The gift shop was incredible and had everything you could imagine to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, Bourbon, and Louisville.

The Howard Steamboat Museum

O.k. so this museum is not in Louisville, but just across it in Jeffersonville, Indiana. We stumbled upon it after our walk across the pedestrian railroad bridge. The Howard Steamboat Museum is definitely worth a stop, visit and tour.

The Howard mansion was built by Edmonds J. Howard, son of James Howard. James passed on the Steamboat business to his son. Built in 1890 in the Richardsonian-Romanesque style red brick structure, similar to the Levy building mentioned above.

Our tour was really fascinating learning about the turn-of-the-century riverboat and steamboat industries. The first-floor tour was fantastic with our guide, Jim. Jim was knowledgeable, and engaging, and knew his Howard Steamboat history. In this three-story building, the second and third floors are self-guided and take you through the history of this family, the impact of the river, and the industry it still brings to this area of our country. As I said, fascinating tour.

Jim our great guide

So what do you think? Is this a pretty good article on what to see and do in and around Louisville? It was pretty tough with the days we chose to hit all the highlights, but for sure I will be back. Maybe even bring a small group for bourbon tastings and more. Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Varenna, Lake Como

Varenna, Lake Como

Lake Como is filled with quaint little towns that sit in alcoves or jut out into the lake with prominent early 19th century villas and architecture from a time gone by. Last week, I highlighted Menaggio and just across the Lake is another fantastic town, Varenna. Varenna, Lake Como is definitely a favorite as well and offers just a bit different vibe than the other towns along the shore. From palatial gardens to gelato shops and villa hotels, Varenna may subtly surprise you on your visit to Como.

Varenna is known for being the more laid-back town next to the glitz and glamor of nearby Bellagio. So if you are looking for a more chill experience, Varenna might be a better fit for your vacation. 

How to get there

Located on Como’s eastern shore, you can arrive by boat (with a car or by foot) Or you can drive to Varenna as well. Although if you are coming down the roads from Germany, GoogleMaps or Waze will most likely bring through Chur and the Bernina Pass. It is something else, I tell ya. One of the highest Alps in Switzerland leads to the eastern side of Lake Como and Varenna. 

By Boat

TRAVEL TIP: This mountain pass can be harrowing, so bring your wristbands. You will need them as the switchbacks are winding like you won’t believe. 

Scary Roads

Another TRAVEL TIP: make sure you are searching the town of Varenna in the Province of Lecco. As there is the town of Varenna (same spelling) just outside of the city of Genoa. You will be adding another 2+ hours to your adventure. However, you would be on the Italian Riviera so it wouldn’t be all bad. 

Bernina Pass

By Boat – one of the most popular ways to arrive in Varenna is by boat or ferry. Many times I have taken the ferry from Menaggio or Cadenabbia on the western coast. It is roughly €8-10 per person including your vehicle. To board the ferry, it is critical that you are in the proper line. For these frequent ferry routes, there are painted signs on the road for Bellagio or Varenna. There’s plenty of signage prior to boarding, just make sure you are in the right one. While we were there this past September it was also required mask-wearing. I believe that has dissipated now but I do recommend following whatever guidance the transport personnel recommends. 

By Train – the train station for Varenna is centrally located as well making it a great stop in Como. The journey from Milan is about an hour. This route runs about every hour to an hour and a half and is €11 one way. If you are in search of an alternative way to arrive in Varenna, Lake Como, taking the train would definitely be an option.

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Where to STAY?

I have stayed in Varenna several times. One time as part of a small group tour and the other for a romantic weekend in the Fall with Jon. Both times were equally peaceful and enchanting. There are several types of “stays” in Varenna depending on the Holiday you would like to experience. If you would like to visit a family-friendly hotel you can, a renovated villa with palatial gardens or maybe a hotel/restaurant combo that is superb, there is something for every kind of traveler. 


Albergo Beretta

We stayed at the Hotel Albergo Beretta in the downtown area of Varenna and within walking distance of the boat dock. There was parking around the back and also a public parking area for €10 per day. 

Here is my Google Review for this property. 

Wonderful staff ~ great location. Hotel Beretta is located just off the main road in Varenna making it a perfect overnight in Como. You are close to the marina and within walking distance of all the restaurants.

Our room was modern and clean with an awesome balcony. I loved the big windows.

Sement was warm and welcoming at check-in and everyone else was generous and helpful during our stay. Would absolutely stay again!

It was also affordable and had a very small breakfast, the coffee was good. Our room was located right on the main street and the night noise ran a little late but finally settled down, request a room in the back if you prefer.

Albergo Milano

Jon and I stayed at the Albergo Milano in November 2017 for a romantic weekend getaway to Lake Como. The hotel is historic and our views from the room were just breathtaking. We were there just in time for the leaves changing, the natural beauty was incredible.

TRAVEL TIP: Most of Lake Como closes down after the first weekend in November. Restaurants, shops, and some hotels. When you are planning your adventure, remember this little detail

The outside patio is quite lovely and breakfast was well done. The views of the lake from the dining room terrace are beautiful as well. Be sure to make reservations for dinner as they stay quite busy. I would even recommend doing that prior to arrival.


Hotel Villa Cipressi

The Hotel Cipressi is located in the northern part of Varenna and is a restored Villa and Garden. The grounds are gorgeous and unforgettable. An upscale option for your stay at the lake, The Villa Cipressi is also a very popular wedding and event venue. However, some of the rooms themselves are not particularly large but do have modern conveniences and have recently been renovated.