Queen Mary 2 ~ Transatlantic Travel TIPS!

*This blog contains affiliate partnerships. Every little bit (and I mean little) helps me continue to provide free travel tips and advice. Thank you for supporting ©Travel with Wendy.

Sunset over the Atlantic - Queen Mary 2 Cruise ShipIf you were to tell me six years ago I would be taking the Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Oceanliner cruise from Europe to America, I would have said, ” Yea, right!” A cruise voyage like this was not even on my radar. However, in this life, you just never know. Initially, when we began the research for our PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move from Germany back to the States traveling this way, we hopped on it. These are my Queen Mary 2, Transatlantic Cruise Travel tips to help your voyage across the sea.

Queen Mary 2 Cruise up close

Friend Hook-up!

My friends Kathy and Kymberlee had already done this voyage in-bound to the EU so they knew all the major deets (details.) Of course, while they were on one of my day trips, I picked their brains constantly. As it turned out, Kathy was taking the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) back to the States too with us on the same voyage in June.

History everywhere - Like no other cruise ship in the world

It was an amazing journey of a lifetime and I have so much to share ~ so here I go! Bon Voyage – please like, share and comment below to help me continue sharing travel tips.

 Its a BIG ship! - Cruise safety

TIP #1 ~ Know before you go

First, make your reservation EARLY!

  1. BOOK EARLY ~ as soon as you know your dates (book them)
    • I know this is particularly difficult if you do not have orders or don’t know your PCS date (booking later just means less of a choice in a cabin or it would be sold out.
    • We booked in January for the June voyage and the rooms were limited to reserve
    • We booked our PCS travel through the leisure travel office on-post to verify coverage and reimbursement

©TWW Stop sign girlSpecifically, if this a PCS move to or from Germany – use your government credit card for easier reimbursement

Find out exactly what is included with your ticket 

  • You can add amenities, we didn’t know that ahead of time if you are interested in doing this – I would recommend contacting Cunard directly after you receive your BOOKING number.

2.  IF you have the opportunity to book directly through Cunard Cruise Line I would definitely do this overbooking your reservation through a travel agency/company. I was able to interview Sangeeta, Communications Director on-board and she shared that if you book directly through Cunard, you will have much better options of rooms to choose from AS well as other amenities that are not included in a travel agent package.

Views from the Deck - Big Boat cruise

Also – if you book directly through Cunard for your cruise, they will immediately send you a packet of information filled with goodies, schedules, and opportunities on-board. We eventually received a packet – but it was not until about two weeks before we departed and were in the middle of a move without time to read all the fine details. They really end up being super important tips.

Read all the fine details, they really are super important travel tips!

Travel TIPIf you have traveled with Cunard in the past, check with them to see if you have any perks coming your way.

Walking the Promenade - good exercise on the cruise

Also, there are two ports of entry for the June voyage stateside, you can board at Southampton, England or in Hamburg, Germany. Since we had a few days to kill before the trip, we headed to Copenhagen, Denmark for a few days before catching a train to Hamburg. More on Copenhagen in an upcoming blog.

Getting to Hamburg!

So if you are heading to Hamburg as part of a move, you will want to pack accordingly. Not your typical stateside flight or PCS with TONS of luggage on the airplane. We had one very large luggage, carry-on and then a back-pack. This was plenty of room to pack everything we would need for the 10-day voyage including our fancy clothes. Stay tuned for more on that too ~ Having been to Hamburg, we were ahead of the game.

To get to Hamburg, you can take the train, rent-a-car, or fly. It really depends on the time you have and the type of transportation you prefer. The Cunard Terminal is not located near the other Cruise terminals in Hamburg, so you will also want to book a hotel, we choose the Marriott because we are members and rack up the points, the COURTYARD by Marriott was inexpensive and about 15 minutes away from the terminal.
So the taxi was about €30 one way to get to the terminal. You may also choose the train but it doesn’t go directly there, you would have to take a bus, so we decided a cab it is ~

Ready to Board!

Travel TIP ARRIVE ON TIME! Another HUGE TRAVEL TIP! ARRIVE at the TERMINAL AT your designated time. This was a huge misstep for us. We thought by arriving a little early we would be great. However, buses filled with hundreds of people arrived directly in front of us and the computers were down for the boat, so we waited almost two hours to check-in.  Had we arrived at our designated time, we probably would have waited 30 minutes, max. There aren’t a lot of places to sit at the Hamburg terminal, it was kind of a bummer.

Welcome to the Grand lobby - QM2 Cruise Ocean Liner

PRINT OUT YOUR LUGGAGE TAGS and attach them to your luggage – they will be picked up curbside – luxury service already. 

We had requested a balcony room for our voyage, but since only an outer-room cabin was available that was what we got. Unfortunately, when we checked-in we were unable to upgrade, also. If you can swing a balcony room, I would recommend it, if you like to have some fresh air. However, Jon and I decided we really preferred our extra-large – outer room with a big window for less cost than I think the balcony would have been. 

WHAT TO PACK?

Kymberlee and Kathy had briefed me on packing travel tips and that some dress-up clothes for balls and dance were required. Definitely, who doesn’t love to shop for dresses? However, we had no more time, so I scoped out some from friends to borrow for this special occasion. Jon retired in ’07, I haven’t been to a formal in awhile. There was a “Ball” almost every night we were on-board or you could dress up real nice.

Black and White Gala - Cruise activities all the time!

The language on the ship was ~ 

Smart Dress ~ for women – nice dresses, skirts, dress pants, business-like attire

  • for men – dress pants, tie (no jacket)



Formal/Gala Evening ~ for women – Evening or cocktail dresses, smart trouser suits

  • for men – tuxedo, or suit with tie and dinner jacket after 6:00 p.m.

Now, there aren’t clothes “monitors” walking around shaming you into dressing up, but there is a “dress code” and you will feel awkward walking around in jeans on the gala nights.

©TWW Stop sign girl

No jeans ~ not really. We did see a few people wearing jeans but they were teenagers or children. Most women wore nice summer dresses or shorts while walking around and men wore khakis. Definitely a bit more upscale than my last ®Carnival cruise.

For our 10 day cruise – I packed…

  • 8 sundresses
  • 2 Formal gowns (1 for the masquerade ball and one for the Gala)
  • Leggings and dress pants
  • Pumps, (2) wedge sandals, flip-flops for the pool
  • Bathing suit, cover-up
  • 2 workout outfits, sneaks
  • Sleepwear
  • Toiletries and cosmetics

I wore a summer sundress pretty much every day. They were easy to pack and acceptable travel wear.

Green girl!Let’s set SAIL!

After you have registered and checked in – you will receive a “card” this is your pass card for the whole duration of the cruise. Once you have memorized your room number, you will want to carry this with you at all times.

Front Bow - not your ordinary Cruise ship

Safety FIRST! One of the first things you will do when everyone is on-board and checked in is a safety brief. Depending on your cabin location you will be called up to attend in a dining room or common area. it was about 45 minutes and you have to bring your life jacket. This is in accordance with Maritime law and I saw Titanic, so I was grateful to know how to put a life jacket on. I would have shared the bedframe too. HA!

Jon and I got comfortable in our cabin then set off to investigate the ship.

The Queen Mary 2 ocean liner is larger than the Titanic was and the size of almost three football fields. Deck 7 is the promenade deck, we found this to be one of our favorites because you could walk the deck from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (and 3 laps = 1.1 miles.) Every day you would see power walkers, runners and strollers just taking in the beautiful views of the ocean and fresh air.

Walking the plank promenade

There are maps all around the ship to familiarize yourself with where you are and where everything is located. I would have read this through before hopping on deck but I am married to an explorer too, so off we went.
RoamRight cruise travel insurance

ACTIVITIES on BOARD the Cruise

Honestly, there are so many activities on-board if you get bored, it is your own fault. Seriously, there was something to do every single hour. Every evening you will receive a “Daily Program” for the following day. READ THIS CAREFULLY.  This “old schools” newspaper is filled with activities of what to do, where they are being held, and what attire is required. Your steward will leave these in your mailbox outside the room.

Views from Deck 8 - BIG CRUISE views

TWW - snailCanyon Ranch Spa Club

This was our favorite! This cruise was for Jon and I was for relaxation and de-stressing after our very stressful move from Germany. So we visited the Canyon Ranch Spa Club first. I was so glad we decided to join the spa for the week. This was an additional $150/person but included unlimited access (while open) to the whirlpool baths, saunas, aroma saunas, and relaxation room.

Welcome to the Spa on the QM2 Cruise

The relaxation room became our respite. After we worked out in the gym or walked around Deck 7 we would enjoy a chill in the spa and rest in the relaxation room with window views of the ocean. Also, you could book additional spa services for massages, chiropractic and acupuncture and a lot more. My massage was fantastic!

Pools

There were four swimming pools we really enjoyed, but the spa pool was our favorite and very quiet. The Pavilion Pool was located under sunglass and had a musical band playing sporadically throughout the cruise giving it a nice party feel. The other pools were outside and it was warm enough to lay-out and enjoy the fresh air. Several of the outdoor pools had hot tub jacuzzis as well.

Cruise Fitness 

If you have a legitimate fear of gaining some “cruise” weight, there are plenty of opportunities to work it off too. The gym is huge and has several elliptical, treadmills, and stationary bikes as well as ®Nautilus equipment and weights. There are also fitness instructors that offer fitness seminars, classes and different clinics for help. *Some classes are for an extra cost.

Treadmills - ugh - Cruise gym

Bars & Pubs

There are a total of 13 pubs and bars on the ship. Our favorite was the Golden Lion Pub. There was a pianist who came from time to time and entertained us with different genres of music. Super cool. We became friends with the servers and really enjoyed the Fish & Chips

Push Pin Travel Maps

Time to EAT on the Cruise!

The Chef’s Galley was “included” in our cruise package. This is where most people would eat if they were looking for something faster since it was a buffet style and opened almost all the time during the day. It was closed between 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. but pubs were open then too. We ate here for most breakfasts, some lunches, and even some dinners, the fresh menu was AMAZING. They also had an EXHIBIT and a show called “Chocolate and Ice!” 

Cunard on Ice - Huge Cruise Ship

Since I was doing a full article and I am a foodie, we also tried the other venues. We enjoyed the alternative dining choices immensely ~ Here they are, check it out!

The Verandah Steak House

The alternative restaurants included an up-charge but were worth EVERY penny. YOLO! This is our friend Desmond, who became “our” waiter.

King’s Court ~ Alternative Dining

We tried all three!

These alternative dining restaurants were in the Kings Court dining area and changed every few days. The most amazing STAFF!! These venues were more like “Tapas” restaurants and I love, love, love TAPAS. This gives you just a little taste of so many options and in the end,  you are stuffed. So I get to try lots of different things without overdoing it on one item. YAY!

Smokehouse

Coriander

Coriander was an alternative restaurant option with an Indian~Asian Fusion menu. Super delicious and fresh.

Aztec

Aztec was the Tex-Mex Fusion Menu – I loved the combinations the Chef tried with this menu. The flavors were incredible and missing Tex-Mex for the last five years in I was so grateful for it! So was my growing waistline. HA!

The Britannia Room was included with the cruise package but I found it to be lacking. I am not a big banquet dining fan either, flashbacks from college. The cruise also seats you in a group seating fashion (of their choosing) and we found the food options to be just meh ~ but others really loved it. So, to each his own. We did eat here twice to be fair. We just preferred the Galley Buffet and the alternative dining choices. 

I truly enjoyed meeting the staff and making some great friends, our sweet server Blessing was quite a blessing to us and super fun. Every one of these servers was incredibly professional. 

Meeting the staff!

Extra! Extra!©TWW Stop sign girl

As with all the cruise ships, there are “EXTRA’s” you will have to prepare yourself for on your trip. I knew we would pay a little extra for services. With this particular Cunard trip, it was much, much more. Here were the areas I was gobsmacked. We ended up spending an additional $2,000 when all was said and done. Phew… ouch!

Chillin on the deck.jpg

Internet – while at sea – for 30 minutes – $15 (or .50/minute) and it just went up from there to $330/1,920 minutes.

Fitness Classes – our yoga class was $12/person and it was more like a stretch class, not yoga there were only 4 people in the class

Wine Tasting & Wine – glasses of wine ranged between $12/glass to $33/glass. Wine seminar with the Sommelier was $120/person, Champagne tasting – $34.50/person in the champagne bar

Photo services – were an extra fee, but I felt there fees were reasonable and really professional pics

Afternoon Tea ~ Godiva – $15.50/person and it was just a few bits of chocolate, tea or coffee

Art Flower Arranging Class ~ $50/2 days

Most cruises offer extra services as this is where the revenue is generated. We were just not prepared for the level. But it is the QM2.

Sunset on the QM2 Cruise

Travel TIP

Some of these EXTRAs are cheaper the closer you get to port! For example, if you are interested in a spa service/laundry wait until Wednesday/Thursday they are discounted!

What’s in your package?

Now, don’t let me discourage you, there are plenty, plenty of included events and activities on-board that do not cost extra. There is a really cool Planetarium you can attend, (just be sure to sign up the day before.) Also, a game area on both sides of the boat with incredible views.

Views from the deck.jpg

All musical shows are included ~ which are GREAT! We saw some amazing performances with a full BAND!

The GALAs were a lot of fun – and they even have dance classes if you would like to learn some cool moves. Kathy and Chris really enjoyed these quite a bit.

Purple Haze was the cool rock band that performed nightly at one of the bars or at the pool. They played all kinds of R&B, 70’s, 80’s and themed events. Super fun!

Dance the night away

Green girl!Once in a LIFETIME!

We had the most incredible time and I did not even share everything our transatlantic travel was a success. Oh, and we also stopped into port at Southampton, England on one of our stops. I’ll share that in another blog. We had fun, made friends, and were pampered like a King and Queen while making memories of a lifetime.

Good morning NY

Coming into Brooklyn harbor at sunrise was like a dream. I am somewhat speechless as to the feelings I felt coming into that harbor while the sun was rising over the city. My relatives were immigrants from Scotland and Ireland and I get tearful just writing this today thinking of their journey. Their journey was nothing like mine and yet they made it possible for me to have this incredible experience and come home to America. 

Above all, I would absolutely recommend a transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary 2, especially if you are trying to travel this way for a PCS move. I hope the blog has been able to help you put together a trip of your own. Bon Voyage ~ let me know if you have any questions or comment below.

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

Germany ~ Cologne for the weekend

 

*This blog contains affiliate partnerships. Every little bit (and I mean little) helps me continue to provide free travel tips and advice. Thank you for supporting ©Travel with Wendy.

Fall in Cologne

Cologne for the weekend is a GREAT idea. Stuttgart is just a few hours away from many major cities around Europe including Cologne. I have visited this city several times over the past few years, so felt really comfortable about booking our short visit to this two-thousand-year-old town. Cologne was one of Rome’s largest colonies outside of Rome. (Colony/Cologne/Köln) was a critically important political and religious town on the Rhein (Rhine) river for the early Roman Empire. 

So much history in one place and fun things to do!

Green girl!Getting there by FAST TRAIN ~ 

We decided to take the fast train to Cologne and it was a lot of fun. If you think of this taking the train here are a few tips. It was only €120 round trip from Stuttgart to Cologne for the weekend. I think that is a GREAT deal!

  • Make seat reservations in both directions
  • Check the schedule online before booking the tickets
  • Pack light

Park and the promenade - Cologne, Germany

Enjoy the view! This particular train ride skirts the Rhine river the entire way up to Cologne and was incredible journey dotted with castles and little hamlet towns along the river the whole way.

Where we stayed!

Köln Marriott

Marriott Courtyard Lobby - Cologne, Germany

Jon and I were heading to Cologne for a weekend to see comedian Jim Gaffigan and we are also BIG Marriott fans. We have a Vacation Club Timeshare we bought 17 years ago and when we travel just the two of us, we like to stay here. Mostly because we know what to expect and we both like having amenities to work-out, be close to the sites and use our points. American Express will also let you transfer your points to Marriott although we found it isn’t that great of exchange so we typically. 

Courtyard by Marriott- Cologne

Very nice rooms and our location was perfect, would absolutely stay again!

Green girl!Restaurants

Funk Haus ~ Funkhaus Gastronomie GmbH
Wallrafplatz 5
50667 Köln

Wonderful breakfast and close to the old town area.

Oma’s Kuche ~ Grandma’s Kitchen, Große Budengasse 2 b, 50667 Cologne

Simple, German affordable breakfast in a very busy town. Homecooked breakfast in the heart of this busy city. Very close to the city center.

Haxenhaus Rheingarten – Frankenwerft 19, 50667 Cologne

Really fun Biergarten and Brewhouse – not too far from the old town district. Enjoy this old-timey bar and restaurant with a full German restaurant.

Green girl!

Cathedral

Building began in 1248 and the spires to this cathedral are still so impressive and massive I can’t even imagine what people must have thought in the middle ages before skyscrapers. WOW! Definitely the most photographed cathedral in Germany it stands majestic over all the city.

Cathedral under construction in Cologne

The shrine of the Magi (3 Kings) of Christ is here and it is just a magnificent museum and historical building as well as a church. A focal point for the city you can see why it would draw so many visitors every year. 

Travel TIPLocated just beneath the church are public restrooms (there is a fee, I think .50 at the time of this writing.)You may want to take a formal tour of the cathedral which I would recommend. It was inexpensive to book a local tour. I like to use Tours by Locals. They are generally very passionate about their city, history and eager to share. Like me!

Also, the entrance to the Hauptbahnhof (City Train Station) is on the second level, so again, the location is perfect for a visit by train.

Archeological Museum

The Archeological Museum in Cologne is fantastic. It is filled with historic and archeological information from before the Roman occupation. Jon and I thought this museum was very interesting, inexpensive and taught us a lot about the history of not just Cologne but the early beginnings of Europe.

Christmas Market!

Cologne HAS Christmas Markets!! Probably the only city in Germany that has multiple Christmas markets ALL AT ONE TIME and most within walking distance. Cologne makes for a great weekend trip in December too. Check it out. They even have a gnome market, chocolate market, old-town market, family market and more! Yup, definitely a Christmas Market town.

Christmas Markets in Cologne

Rheinhausen

One area I love to walk along is the promenade from the Hohenzollern Bridge to the Rheinhausen area. During Christmastime, this is where you will find two Christmas markets, the Chocolate market, and the Marina Christmas market. I also love this area because you can catch a night dinner cruise along the Rhine or a boat ride or just walk through the park and enjoy nature.

Cologne at night

Cologne takes on a whole different personality at night. One of the most packed love lock bridges in Europe you will be amazed at this display. If you love night time photography I would encourage you to walk the streets (in safety) for some really cool shots.

Traveling around Europe has never been easier and you don’t have to travel to far to see some incredible places. Cologne, for instance, has so much to see, eat and do! Maybe you’ll want to see a concert for the weekend or just have a quick getaway. I hope you have enjoyed my highlighted tour of Cologne and you are inspired to have an adventure yourself.

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

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Cologne for the weekend Cologne for the weekend PIN

French Riviera ~ Antibes, Cannes & Monaco

Sunset on the Riviera

Green girl!If you were to ask me how to rate the French Riviera towns along the coast it would probably in the same order, Antibes, Cannes, and Monaco. Although, my absolute favorite of all the little towns are La Ciotat and Cassis. I loved them so much I wrote about them almost immediately, to share, I’m a sharer.

Views from the castle
I love the sailboat town of Antibes, the star-studded town of Cannes and since you are so close you’ll want to have a martini in the famous casinos of Monaco – so James Bond! Why not they are just a train ride away ~ all the Riviera! Today, I am writing about a few of these French Riviera stars because they are definitely worth a visit. Especially if you plan on visiting Nice. Nice was not my favorite. If you follow me you might already have read my review of this coastal “don’t stay here” town. Nice is fine for a day trip but I would not spend the money to stay here. For this reason, I am recommending these nearby wonder gems because they are just beautiful. Monaco might be a stretch financially to spend the night but it is definitely worth a day trip, just to say “been there, done that.” 

Booking.com

Green girl!Antibes

This sailboat town is quite stunning. I loved just walking the streets and popping into boutique shops, that was affordable. Seriously, you will see the more time you spend on the French Riviera the #stickershock might freak you out. However, I found in Antibes the stores to have a wonderful variety and an artist district that has a history.

Antibes was a favorite of Picasso ~ who happened to live here in the latter part of his life. The Picasso museum was definitely worth the €6/person fee and is in an old castle right on the water with amazing views. Just remember it is closed on Mondays.  Students are half-price so if your student has a high school ID show that off. 


We took the train from Nice to Antibes. The French Riviera/Cote d’Azur Train is affordable and easy to hop from one city to the next. There is no air-conditioning in the summer. So you may sweat a pound or two but that’s good for the body. The kiosks switch to English. You may decide to pre-pay for these tickets and print them out. I can suggest this because it was crazy busy in Nice when we did this daily. Luckily, the tourist train left quite frequently so it wasn’t a big deal to wait a few minutes for the next one.

Train around Provence

Our day in Antibes was filled with shopping, site seeing, and a great lunch. Of course, because the Romans occupied this region for so long the Italian influence can still be felt today, so the gelato stop was in order as well.



If you are looking for a little quieter, yet elegant stay along the Riviera and close by to the other towns, I would recommend Antibes. 

Views of the Harbor - Antibes
Push Pin Travel Maps

Green girl!Cannes

I love Cannes. Although I haven’t been to the famous “Cannes Film Festival” season. It still seems “star-studded” to me. I bring my groups here on the RIVIERA ADVENTURE every year because it is so close to the Italian Riviera and makes a nice stop for catching a beautiful sunset along the promenade. For more details on this year’s adventure ~ click BELOW!

COME JOIN ME THIS YEAR!

RESERVE

NOVEMBER  6 – 10, 2019Italian Riviera

Last year when I was visiting Cannes with friends I decided to use theFork App from TripAdvisor to book reservations. We booked reservations almost as soon as we arrive online Cercle de Marins, it was a super busy Saturday in Cannes. The restaurant was at the end of the Promenade near the Pier with great views and menu online.

As we approached the restaurant it was super busy. I shocked the maitre’d with our reservations on theFork because you see, they were catering to a closed event. A WEDDING! Yup, they realized their mistake and asked if we would mind the wedding menu, seated us outside on the dock and we enjoyed our wedding feast. Although it was quite pricey, it was some of the BEST FRENCH food I’ve had yet.

Yea, we were WEDDING CRASHERS!

Green girl!

Like I say “It’s always an adventure!” It always is an adventure, we still laugh about that experience.

TWW - snailCannes is filled with high-end shopping, so you will need to plan accordingly on buying a little trinket. Indeed, it seemed the equivalent to our Rodeo Drive in California. Also, not too far from Monaco, it appeared the super-elite rich and famous love summering here too. If you love cars or sailboats, this town always has a yacht shows in the harbor during the summer. Caviar and dreams ~

Monaco 

Monaco is just plain fun to pop into. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in my crowd who could afford even one night in this little country.

©TWW Stop sign girlI learned a HUGE lesson the first time I visited Monaco. I pulled into a public parking garage with BIG BETTY, my 9 passenger van and for 2 hours of visiting it was €100!! Not.EVEN.KIDDING! I wish.

Harbor of Monaco

Nonetheless, I learned very quickly that this is a town you MUST take the train to in order to visit. Parking is insane. I think they probably do this to keep the riff-raff out. Like me. Some fun things to visit:

Casinos in Monaco

Good Eats Cafe de Paris

Additionally, walking around town was a highlight too. The city park is quite pretty but we didn’t want to spend an awfully long time here because it hurt the pocketbook. It was nice but nothing special to me. But if you feel you MUST, to check it off, I warned you. I would recommend adding it to your itinerary as a day trip visit and take the train.

 

Finally, the great thing about the Cote d’Azur train system during the tourist season is that you can hop on and off the Riviera with great views to all these towns. You may find another town I have not discovered yet! YAY!
I really love visiting the Cote d’Azur in France. I feel like I have just begun to discover its hidden gems. It has natural beauty, great eats, art, history and the blue waters bring me back every time.

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

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French Riviera Sunset PIN    French Riviera PIN

Stuttgart EATS!

*This blog contains affiliate partnerships. Every little bit (and I mean little) helps me continue to provide free travel tips and advice. Thank you for supporting ©Travel with Wendy.

Regional Mushroom Pancakes

Living in Stuttgart, Germany has been a culinary dream, here is my list of Stuttgart EATS! There is no shortage of great eats in this region. To be successful in the restaurant business in Europe I have learned you must have great, consistent service, fresh food, and seasonal specialties. Stuttgart EATS a LOT! A plethora of restaurants in every town no matter if it is a suburb or right downtown, you will typically find a great restaurant in close proximity of anywhere you are in Baden-Württemberg.

Schnitzel

Schnitzel from Erbachstuble

So I promised before I left, I would share some of my favorites after five years. From Thai to Italian to Swabian and everything in between. Some are just outside of Stuttgart and some right here, a train ride away.

Greek restaurants

Here’s a caveat – People are very passionate about food and restaurants, these are my favorites. Nevertheless,  I respect and honor yours too – if you have some please share in the comments below – I’m a sharer.

Swabian DELIGHTs

  1. Erbachstüble
    • ADDRESS- Erbachstraße 27/1, 71106 Magstadt
    • PHONE –  07159 42557
    • On the MENU ~
      • Schnitzel, Zweibelrostbraten, Maultaschen,  Fresh Forellen (white fish), Salmon, pasta dishes and seasonal specialties.
      • SALADS – my favorite is a Salad with bacon-wrapped goat cheese fresh mix salad with french vinaigrette,
      • Cevapcici (little hamburger links with red pepper sauce) to
  • This counter-pounding, slapping schnitzel favorite local place will be the freshest schnitzel you’ve had in Stuttgart.
  • The children’s menu is excellent – however, their menu is not in English but if you ask them they will help you out. 
  • Navi and Uli own this little restaurant tucked away in Magstadt and I think we have eaten here once a week for five years. Additionally, they not only have a fantastic restaurant but are a part of our German family.
  • Uli is Austrian and was trained in France as a Chef who lives in Germany and is married to Navi who is from the Balkans so the menu has an amazing variety.
  • RESERVATIONS are recommended on weekend nights – closed on Tuesdays and Saturdays 

2. Deutsches Haus

  • ADDRESS – Kaltenwanghof 1, 73235 Weilheim
  • PHONE – 07023 740098
    • located between Stuttgart and Ulm, definitely worth the hop of the interstate for a bite
    • Local favorites made with local ingredients
    • Great staff
    • Reasonably priced
    • Reservations are highly recommended for lunch and dinner
    • Huge space for off-site functions (4 dining rooms)
    • Great views of the Swabian valley

3. Cafe am Markt

  • ADDRESS – Vaihinger Markt 14, 70563 Stuttgart
  • PHONE – 0711 74008183
    • located in the heart of Vaihingen, this cozy cafe is one of the BEST breakfast restaurants in the Stuttgart area
    • Especially, try the Omelette menu with so many choices you’ll want to visit weekly to try a new one
    • REAL BACON~ enough said
    • Cafe, coffee and pastries also with an extensive tea selection
    • Outdoor seating in the market square
    • Great SERVICE! 

Bella Italia

3. Gustaggio’s

  • ADDRESS – Mercedesstrasse 3, 71063 Sindelfingen
  • PHONE – 07031-7641910 
    • Definitely, our favorite location is Sindelfingen because it is so close to home in Magstadt, but with two, one in Leonberg too, so they must be doing GREAT! YAY!
    • Gustaggio’s has a fantastic menu
      • Pizzas that taste authentically Italian
      • Pastas, Salads, Sweets and a great BAR! 
      • I love it because it is your way, Italian way – you can choose your pasta, your sauce and YOU can watch them do it all! With a brick oven stove and a glass encasement you can see all the Chefs hard at work making your meal
      • Incredible salads – one of my favorite is the VEGGI ~ it has grilled vegetables, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and a light vinaigrette, YUM!
    • MAKE RESERVATIONs – especially if you are later than 7:00 p.m. – it’s so good it is always busy.

4. Italiani (ma non troppo)

  • ADDRESS -Milan Square 23, 70173 Stuttgart
  • PHONE – 0711-28413444
    • Newly discovered (for me) Italian restaurant right across from the Milaneo mall. 
    • Delicious menu with lots of seafood options
    • Daily specials
    • PIZZA can be made Gluten-FREE
    • Saturdays from 11:30 – 6 p.m. ALL Pizzas are €6.50
    • Make RESERVATIONS

Don’t forget about my STUTTGART E-BOOKS!

TWW Favorite Day trips

It’s all GREEK to me

5. Mylos

  • ADDRESS – Mercedesstr. 1 , 71063 Sindelfingen 
  • PHONE – 07031 466780
    • Fresh greek every day, every night
    • Love the service – very friendly and speak great English
    • Menu is perfectly greek and portions are GREAT too
    • Nice bar as well and complimentary ouzo when we left! 
    • Make RESERVATIONS

Push Pin Travel Maps

Steaks

6. Sindelfingen Marriott

  • ADDRESS – Mahdentalstraße 68, 71065 Sindelfingen
  • PHONE – 07031 6960
    • We have searched for the BEST steaks of Stuttgart and easily the Sindelfingen Marriott has won- hands-down
    • The steaks are pricier than we have in the states but they are coming from Kansas, so there you go. My husband’s favorite is the Ribeye (he’s from Missouri) Mine is the petite filet with the Bernaise sauce. They have several sauces to pair as well as sides that are typical from the states
    • Make reservations especially on weekends
    • This newly renovated property shines with attentive service and everyone speaks English. Ask for Sam or Victoria, tell them Wendy sent you.

7. (m)EATERY

  • ADDRESS – Kronprinzstraße 24, 70173 Stuttgart
  • PHONE – 0711 87039880
    • Excellent aged steaks with great service
    • Great location in the town, right outside of Stadtmitte
    • One of the better steak restaurants in town
    • Great date night without kids
    • Known for their dry-aged beef on display
    • Fun bar with lots on the cocktail drink list
    • Pricier than most
    • RESERVATIONS are a must

Burgers

I like burgers so much I dedicated an entire Burger BLOG on them. Check this out for a full list ~ here’s my number #1

8. The Burger House

  • ADDRESS – Buchenstraße 24, 70174 Stuttgart
  • PHONE – 0711 72238400
    • First, I love the Burger House – the owner worked and studied in NYC so their cosmopolitan flair is recognized from the menu to the food presentation.
    • Sweet potato fries and Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich
    • My favorite is the Low-Carb burger with pesto mayonnaise and veggies ~ YUM!
    • They have a “lunch” special that is perfectly portioned and you can try it out frequently to taste it all
    • Say “hi” to Nikko!
    • They serve Coke products
    • No need for reservations – unless you go in the evening or with a large group
    • Location is perfect – right at the Stadtmitte train stop at the top of the escalator.

Asian

9. Restaurant Van

  • ADDRESS – Katzenbachstr. 46 Stuttgart, Germany 70563
  • PHONE – 0711 70727292
    • This Thai restaurant is close by in Vaihingen to our community
    • Excellent Asian fusion recipes with full portions
    • Food presentation is really professional
    • RESERVATIONS a must – even for two
    • Lastly, parking can be difficult so be prepared to walk a little bit if there is no parking close by

10. King’s Palace

  • ADDRESS – Schafgasse 3, 70563 Stuttgart
  • PHONE – 0711 7826993
    • Lots of variety on the menu, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese
    • Very nice service, speak German and English
    • Park at the mall – Schwabengalleria
    • Very fast service too – nice teas to compliment the menu
    • My family LOVES it here, so we’ve gone a LOT!

~ BONUS ~

Mexican – o.k., just kidding! This one is a psych out ~ I haven’t found a decent one in the Stuttgart area – you have to go to Berlin. But here is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Berlin – Dolores California Burritos – rated #1 Burritos in Berlin – they call it Cali-Mex!

Two locations – we visited ~ Bayreuther strasse. 3610789 Berlin Schöneberg

Remember to join me soon for my trip to Copenhagen, Denmark & our voyage on the Queen Mary 2!

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

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Stuttgart Eats - TWWStuttgart EATS pin

Touring the NETHERLANDS! Amsterdam and more…

Touring the Netherlands! This was not my first time, it wasn’t even my second. My love affair with this small country began in 1988 as a part of a class project for my Travel & Tourism degree from Johnson & Wales University. We were supposed to head to Turkey but at the last minute, there was instability in their government and security risks. This meant Americans were not allowed to travel there or encouraged not to make it a destination. I think it was my fate to head to Nederland (as my Deutsch friends call it.)

Tourism students in college today make their way to Ecuador and Peru, a little more exotic , I know, but in 1988, a European tour was pretty cool. This trip also began my heartbeat for organizing and introducing groups to countries around the world. 

Today I organize small group tours to visit a lot of places and experience authentic, meaningful connections. This annual ADVENTURE to Holland introduces my travelers to this small but impressive country. Here are some suggestions to tour the Netherlands, Amsterdam and more!

Getting there?

One of the most common questions when visiting Amsterdam is how to get there? If you live in the EU, I always recommend driving. Here’s why ~ parking in AMSTERDAM is BY FAR cheaper on a daily basis than traveling around the country by train. It is one of the most expensive countries of train travel in the EU and although the drivers are a bit wonky, the roads are in great shape with good signage too and easy to understand.

Cars in Europe - touring the Netherlands

Travel TIPBe sure to have an International Driver’s License while traveling here. Whether you are living here temporarily or visiting from the states. Easy to get at any AAA Travel office in America. 

The train ~ Since it is a small country getting around by car is not that hard as the roads are in great shape. However, the train can be pretty expensive, unless you are staying in just one place, like AMSTERDAM. The three – DAY ticket is good for a short stay in just Amsterdam and is about €28.

Taking the train - touring the netherlands

Where to stay?

When researching “where to stay” in the Netherlands I recommend picking a central location. I typically DO NOT stay in Amsterdam central or the heart of the city. I recommend staying outside the city and making it a DAY TRIP. However, there are plenty of reasons to stay IN AMSTERDAM, just be aware it is quite €€€. Especially depending on the neighborhood you choose. 
Booking.com

One of the BEST blog posts I have found is from 22places – I love how they have put this together. It’s is easy to read, the ratings are perfect and their outline is easy to understand. Well done! 

Canals and houses of Amsterdam - touring the netherlands

Remember the research for what you are looking for has pretty much done.  The travel community of bloggers are mostly out there to HELP! It will just take time to research your particular needs.

THINGS to do! Some of my favorites

Canal Ride ~ if you have traveled a bit around Europe sometimes these can be a bit cheesy but I love taking the canal rides in AMSTERDAM. They are easy to pick up along the Amstel River near the RijksMuseum and if you time it well, you won’t have to wait too long.

Time for a boat ride - BLUE BOAT - touring the Netherlands

Visit the Markets ~

Albert Cuyp Market ~ one of the oldest and largest MARKETS in all of Europe this market began as a local market, then the wealthy joined in and found exotic merchandise and vendors in the late 1800’s

Time to Shop - bike rest in the Netherlands

Waterloopein Market ~ is a flea market and locals market. I LOVE it too, because the merchandise ranges from clothing, to food specialties – CLOSED on Sundays!

Van Gogh Museum ~ if you like art, you’ll want to make this one a stop! DEFINITELY, pre-purchase your tickets, the daily line is L-O-N-G!

Van Gogh Museum - Amsterdam

photo credit by Rasmus Kuber on Unsplash

Rijks Museum – 2019 is the year of Rembrandt Celebration. Again the Netherlands is filled with many, many talented artists. 

RijksMuseum - Amsterdam 2019

Just outside of Amsterdam ~ Keukenhof Gardens and I always love visiting these gardens every spring. 

Travel TIP ANNE FRANK HOUSE

Since 1988 I can tell you visiting the Anne Frank House has changed so much.WOW! It’s almost unrecognizable today from our visit over 30 years ago. MY BIG TRAVEL TIP is BUY YOUR TICKET(s) EARLY! Like a year OUT! You may still have to wait once you arrive. My advice always is to book at the opening. Arrive early and you may avoid the long line. If this stop is in your itinerary know that it will involve a long wait and take up a great deal of your time in Amsterdam. It is unavoidable though for the size of the exhibit and keeping the historical infrastructure intact. 


Green girl!Festivals

Before you finish your itinerary OR even pick your dates you may want to look at if and when a festival is taking place! I ALWAYS do this when I am building my itinerary. Sometimes picking dates are inevitable but sometimes you can time it so you are close by to a festival. 

Awesome capture! touring around AmsterdamIn Europe, Amsterdam and more dense cities have festivals almost every weekend somewhere. Whether Europeans celebrate the harvest of a new crop, a King’s Birthday in the Netherlands or the Flower Parade from Noordwijk to Haarlem you’ll want to catch one of these!

©TWW Stop sign girl

Be careful of BICYCLES!

In Amsterdam, bike trails are EVERYWHERE and a major form of transportation. ALWAYS look left and right before you cross the street and if you see a red path painted on the road, next to the sidewalk, LOOK for cyclists. Accidents happen all the time with tourists because they are busy looking at all the cool architecture and walking in the bike path. Bells are on most bikes, just be aware if you hear it coming… you better move.

Bikes everywhere! - Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Party! Party! AMSTERDAM

Heineken Factory Tour is one of the highlights in Amsterdam. Pre-purchase your tickets on-line before you go. They book up quickly and even with pre-purchased tickets you may wait. 

So YES! You have heard about the “coffee shops” in Amsterdam. There are quite a few around town but they don’t quite offer coffee there, so don’t be looking for a cappuccino mid-afternoon, you’ll be surprised. Marijuana is not exactly “legal” to sell in Amsterdam but does fall under the tolerance law and you can smell it quite a bit as you walk the streets. If this is offensive to you, you may not want to spend a great deal of time walking in the hip districts around the Waterloopein district. Just be careful if you partake… Touring the Netherlands can be a lot of fun, but also a little bit of culture shock.

Whoops - be careful... - Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Also, the RED LIGHT district might be a bit much for young, tender eyes. You would need to head there intentionally, it is not on a normal tourist path. You can Google it to know exactly where it is and then avoid the area if you want. HA! I heard on this last trip they are ticketing tourists if you try and take selfies in front of the storefront. *So please don’t be that tourist.* 

Canals of Amsterdam

TWW - snailWith so much to see in Amsterdam, it will be super hard to narrow it down if you don’t have a LOT of time. I would recommend grabbing a coffee or latte at one of the many cafes that line the canals and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this fantastic town.

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

Need a personalized itinerary for your particular travel style? I do that too. Want to know more CLICK HERE!

TWW - Travel Itineraries


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Amsterdam and more... PIN ME!PIN ME! Touring the Netherlands...Amsterdam

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