• pastéis de nata from Pastéis de Belém in Belém, Portugal
    food,  travel

    Pastel de Nata Battle: Pastéis de Belém vs. Manteigaria

    You can’t visit Portugal without sampling at least one pastel de nata (and believe me, you’ll quickly learn that one will not be enough). These flaky tarts filled with a creamy egg custard are a staple of Portuguese cuisine. Your mouth will start salivating as soon as you smell the eggy, vanilla custard and see the golden brown tart with the slight char on top. To me, a fresh-out-of-the-oven pastel de nata is the culinary equivalent to a warm hug. Some background on this ubiquitous pastry of Portugal: A group of Catholic monks in Lisbon came up with the pastel de nata more than 300 years ago. Their monastery closed…

  • Fraulein Maria's Bicycle Tour in Salzburg, Austria
    travel

    The Most Epic Sound of Music Bike Tour

    Are you a fan of The Sound of Music? Do you know every character’s line, every lyric to every song? Is this classic musical one of your favorite things? Then let me introduce you to Fräulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour, perhaps our favorite activity we took part in on our trip to Austria. It’s undeniable that in addition to Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, one of the major stars of The Sound of Music is Salzburg itself. This bike tour was the perfect way for us to get to know this charming city and the movie’s many shooting locations. From Captain von Trapp’s lakeside mansion, to the beautifully manicured Mirabell Gardens where…

  • Spring tart from Osteria Francescana
    food

    Osteria Francescana Reservation Tips

    If you’re traveling to the Emilia-Romagna region and you’re really into food, you probably know of a little place called Osteria Francescana. Rated the top restaurant in the world in 2016 and 2018, this restaurant is one of the toughest places in the world to score a booking. We went for lunch in May 2018, and here are some reservation tips that worked for us: Reservations are accepted online at Osteria Francescana’s website at 10 a.m. Italy time on the first of every month, exactly three months prior to the month you want to dine. So if you want to dine there on any date in October, you need to…

  • wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano
    food,  travel

    Explore: Day Trip to Modena, Italy

    During our trip to the Emilia-Romagna region, we ventured to Modena for a day trip. We were lucky enough to snag a lunch reservation at Osteria Francescana, so we decided to spend all morning and afternoon in this charming city. Perhaps most famously known worldwide as the home of Ferrari and Pavarotti, Modena is also familiar to food enthusiasts; it claims balsamic vinegar, Lambrusco, and one of the world’s top-rated restaurants (the aforementioned Osteria Francescana) as their own. Here’s a Modena day trip guide on what to eat and see. Food Bar Schiavoni If you’re all caught up on Master of None, you’ll already be familiar with Modena, the backdrop…

  • Stamp 3 card Ireland
    advice,  employment,  expat life,  wtf

    WTF?: The Problem with Stamp 3 in Ireland

    UPDATE 25 April 2019:  So about two weeks after I wrote this post, the Irish government decided to simply do away with the Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit and let all dependents/partners/spouses of critical skills employment holders work in Ireland with no restrictions and—wait for it—NO WORK PERMIT.  I went to GNIB this morning and I’m ECSTATIC to say that I now have a Stamp 1G in my passport, declaring that I “may work full-time without Employment Permit.” Honestly, I thought this day would never come! (1G is now the stamp that all dependents/partners/spouses of Critical Skills Employer Permit holders will receive. Read more about it here.) I think this was better…

  • Litter on Henry Street, Dublin
    expat life,  reflections,  wtf

    WTF?: Dublin’s Litter Problem

    My husband and I have now been in Dublin for just over 10 months. We can safely say that it is the dirtiest city we’ve lived in, thanks to its massive litter problem. We lived in New York City, Seattle, and Boston over the past nine years. Yes, NYC is gross in that garbage is left out on the street for collection, but at least the trash is placed in sealed bags (usually). (Now, their rat-infested subway tracks is a different story, but it’s not like people walk on the tracks.) Boston, I’ve seen some disgusting things on occasion (for example, a bloody tissue on a seat on an Orange…

  • Dark Hedges
    travel

    Explore: Game of Thrones Tour in Northern Ireland

    One Saturday in January, we boarded a Dublin Coach bus to Belfast for a weekend trip. The main reason for our journey? Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of the TV series, then I don’t need to tell you that multiple scenes have been shot throughout NI. We booked an all-day bus tour with McComb’s for Saturday, and Sunday morning was to be spent in Belfast. (Spoiler alert: If you’re not past the first few seasons of GoT, you probably want to stop reading now.) Now I’ll preface my post with an admission: I hate (most) tours. We booked this one mainly because we didn’t want to bother with renting a car or…

  • Horstmann Quartz E7 water heating control system
    advice,  essentials,  wtf

    WTF?: The Immersion

    The first time showering in our apartment was quite memorable. Poor Steve learned the hard way that you cannot take hot water for granted here in Ireland. Meet the immersion water heater controller: When we moved in, I noticed this contraption on the wall but for whatever reason, I disregarded it. I remember thinking to myself, “This looks ancient and it’s set to ‘off’ anyway. Maybe it’s something that’s just been here for years and isn’t important.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. This important device controls the hot water supply for our entire apartment. When it’s off, you won’t have hot water. The previous tenants naturally turned it off…

  • Available GNIB appointments
    advice,  essentials

    The GNIB Appointment

    Anyone moving to Ireland needs to pay a visit to the GNIB office. It doesn’t matter if you’re working, not working, a student, or a child. Below is how our process went. You’ll see that the first step is the hardest! Scheduling an Appointment Honestly, the most difficult and annoying part of this process is booking your GNIB appointment. I’m part of a couple of expats groups on Facebook, and the most commonly asked question is, “How on earth do I schedule an appointment?” My husband had to visit the GNIB site multiple times to secure an appointment because it kept telling him there were no appointments available . .…