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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Big Battle of the World’s Smallest Restaurants

To reserve an entire restaurant for you and your date you have to be exceedingly wealthy. That, or find an exceedingly small restaurant.

The Kuappi restaurant is in a quaint wood cabin on a less-than-quaint street of apartment buildings in the small town of Iisalmi, smack in the the middle of Finland. Although a sign out front boasts of this restaurant’s supposed status as the world’s smallest locals seem to think more of Kuappi’s wide selection of alcohol served in airplane mini-bottles. “Don’t miss their bar,” a local advised us about Kuappi. Which made us laugh when we got there. In this place with barely enough room for one table and two chairs it is hard to miss anything.Why it should be the world’s smallest restaurant: It’s the only one of these three restaurants in a self-contained building. The others are part of some larger complex. Why it shouldn’t: While there’s only one table inside the restaurant there’s also another one outside on the terrace.  kauppi The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants 
white The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants
lightgrey The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants white The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants Vacone, Italy 
Solo per Due
What could be a better dining experience than eating in a gourmet restaurant located on a posh central Italian estate once owned by a poet? Having that restaurant all for yourself and your hot date. Solo per Due (“Just For Two”) is all about personalized service for two guests—and two guests only—per night. And this service extends beyond the meal. Maybe you’d like the restaurant to put on a personalized firework display for you, create a centerpiece of your date’s favorite flowers and arrange for you to drive to dinner in a Ferrari—Solo per Due can accommodate you. If you have to ask the price you can’t afford it. Why it should be the world’s smallest restaurant: While there are waitstaff that hang around in the same room as you in the other world’s smallest restaurant contenders, at Solo per Due you’ll have the room to yourself. When you want service you summon help by ringing a bell on your table. Why it shouldn’t: The restaurant is part of a large estate where you can also spend the night.
solo per due The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants  white The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants Salzburg, Austria 
Dinner For 2
An enormous castle in the center of Salzburg seems an unlikely place to find a candidate for the world’s smallest restaurant. But then Dinner For 2 seems an unlikely name for an establishment that regularly serves dinner to four people at once. The Dinner For Two Restaurant is perched on the top floor of a castle that was built in 1350, was a home to the Monastery of St. Peter for hundreds of years and is today the Hotel Schloss Mönchstein. Up to four guests sit on red velvet couches in the restaurant’s one room enjoying the food from a menu personalized for their dining party (along with panoramic views of Salzburg’s old city). The hotel itself is one of the best in Europe and a superb place to stay even if you can’t get a Dinner For 2 reservation. Why it should be the world’s smallest restaurant: The physical area of the dining room is the smallest of the three contenders. Why it shouldn’t: The restaurant can accommodate 100% more people than the two restaurants reviewed above. And, oh yeah, it’s in a giant castle. dinner2 The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants   The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants dinner2 2 The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants  white The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants
Have any big thoughts on the world’s smallest restaurant? There’s enough room for you in our comments section: white The Big Battle of the Worlds Smallest Restaurants

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Round the World travel tips


 If you’ve got 6 months to travel, chances are you’ll be thinking about a Round the World trip. But it’s not as simple as jumping on a plane. There’s an art to the Round the World trip — or RTW travel to those in the know — and Thorn Tree is chock-full of great advice. Here are some great tips from Fountain Safaris members:

Stay longer in fewer places (unless you’re on The Amazing Race): It is not the best of ideas for travellers to succumb to the temptation of trying to see too much: ‘Please please please, in that amount of time (6 months), just pick 4 countries and explore each one thoroughly. Your experience will be infinitely richer as a result, you will enjoy your trip more and you will have a much better trip!'

Slow down, you move too fast: Traveling fast is extremely exhausting and expensive … a bus/train/boat every few days adds a significant amount to your daily expenses.

Get money when you can: When going to a smaller city make sure you have enough money to get there, do your activities, and have enough left to leave.

Start networking now: Before you go do a lot of networking and let as many people as possible know about your plans. Maybe start a travel blog and have as many people back home following along as possible. The point is to have as many contacts as possible who are interested in your adventure.

Check the weather: Don’t get caught out by rainy season in Thailand or the scorching heat in Spain. Look at the weather conditions for the specific times you’ll be in various places.

Don’t stress about pre-booking everything: I know a lot of people pre-trip worry about booking things, but at the end of the day people are more than happy to help you give them money. It’s not an issue.

But do sort out your visa situation.

Less is more: Pack light, pack light, pack light.

Be smart about where you buy a RTW ticket:  RTW tickets are cheaper (in US$ terms) if bought in some other countries besides the USA. This is especially the case today when the USD is quite strong compared to some other currencies.

Choose the right shoes: From sneakers to CROCS, suggests what footwear to wear where.

Adapt your destinations to match your budget: ‘You can easily travel on $25-35 per person per day in places like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya, India, most of Central America, and many parts of South America. Some countries in Africa would also fit the bill. If you’re going to Australia, NZ, Singapore, Japan, etc, you’d need about 3-4 times that.

Beware: it could change your life: Who knew that it would be so addictive and you’d end up wanting to change your life to include more time travelling, if not a permanent move overseas. That can throw a spanner in your pre-trip, organised life.

Oh and check out Fountain Safaris Website for more tips:

Six Healthy, Kid-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

As Moms, we all know how important breakfast is, both for ourselves and our kids. Having breakfast within an hour of waking up gives us the energy we need to start the day, kick-starts our metabolisms, helps us focus and concentrate all morning, and can even control our appetites and cravings all day, preventing unhealthy snacking later (especially when breakfast includes enough protein). This, in turn, helps us to reach a healthier weight.
For busy families, breakfast cereal seems to be the go-to choice for quick and easy breakfasts. It's fast, kids like it and there is next to no prep time. Here's the thing. For the most part, breakfast cereal sucks in the nutrition department. Yes, there are higher fibre, lower sugar options out there, and having cereal occasionally will do no harm. But even though cereal can pack a punch in the calorie department, you may notice that cereal doesn't keep you full for very long. This is because it is often lower in fibre, high in sugar, low in protein, and high in refined starchy carbohydrates. Therefore, you will likely need more food to satisfy you soon after eating breakfast. And you will likely eat more throughout the day.
Here are six healthier (yet still yummy!) breakfast options that you and your kids will love: 
*Hint: All of these ideas are also great for lunch or dinner, too.

1. Oatmeal Many Ways

Oatmeal is our family's go-to breakfast of choice. It is high in fibre, satisfying, and versatile. Use large flake oats—or better yet, steel-cut oats—add milk or soymilk, a dash of salt and microwave for two minutes in a microwave-safe tall container or bowl so that it doesn't spill over. Add more milk or greek yogurt (which is higher in protein than regular yogurt), nuts or seeds, and your fruit of choice. If it needs to be sweetened a bit, add maple syrup or brown sugar. You can also make a big batch on the stove-top and eat it all week by heating a portion in the microwave, adding extra milk and fixings. Here are 5 more oatmeal recipes that you'll love.

2. Homemade TEC (Tomato, Egg and Cheese Sandwich)

Ingredients (1 serving):
  • 1 whole wheat english muffin or 2 slices of whole grain toast
  • 1 tsp of butter or margarine
  • 1-2 eggs done the way you like (poached, over-medium, sunny side up, scrambled etc)
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 slices of fresh tomato
  1. Butter your toast or english muffin and then layer your egg, cheese and tomato on top.  Enjoy alone or with some fruit.

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients (1 serving):
  • 3/4-1 cup greek vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts or ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup homemade granola
  • 1/3 cup berries (fresh or frozen)
  1. In a bowl or portable container, layer the yogurt, seeds, fruit and granola. Enjoy!

4. Berry, Oat and Yogurt Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients (1 serving):
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp of seeds (hemp hearts, chia or flax)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp large flake oats
  • Handful of fresh spinach (optional, but I promise you won't notice it)
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth. You may want to add more milk to thin in out OR some ice to make it thicker. 

5. Easy French Toast

Ingredients (1 serving):
  • 1-2 slices of whole grain or sprouted grain bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • dash of cinnamon
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt or cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 cup favourite fruit
  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium and spray with cooking spray
  2. Whisk together egg, milk and cinnamon in a bowl and coat both sides of bread in it until covered
  3. Transfer to hot pan. Flip when side down is golden brown and cook on other side until golden brown
  4. Transfer to plate, and add greek yogurt or cottage cheese, fruit and maple syrup

6. Muffin Tin Omelets

Ingredients (makes 4 adult servings OR 8 kiddie servings):
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tomato chopped finely
  • 2- mushrooms chopped finely
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp green onion or chives chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and grease a 12 cup muffin tin
  2. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper
  3. Add chopped veggies to egg mixture and stir
  4. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, scoop egg mixture into a greased muffin tin until dispersed evenly
  5. Add 1 tbsp of grated cheese on top of each omelet
  6. Fill empty muffin holds with 2 tbsp of water
  7. Cook omelets at 400 F for approximately 15 minutes or until eggs are firm.
  8. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 3-5 minutes and then serve on top of whole grain toast. Add salsa if you like.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Honeymoon on a Budget: 5 Incredible Getaways That Will Save You Money

With the average wedding cost now approaching $30,000, it's understandable that many couples feel the need to scale back on their honeymoon plans. However, there are a number of worldwide destinations that can deliver the trip of a lifetime without draining your wallet. From postcard-perfect spots in Europe to the exotic shores of the Caribbean, consider these five amazing destinations for an affordable honeymoon getaway. Puerto Rico This U.S. commonwealth makes for a terrific Caribbean getaway -- and for a fraction of the cost. For starters, the island is home to a wide range of lodging options, including noteworthy all-inclusive hotels like Copamarina Beach Resort near the seaside town of Guanica. Newlyweds can also minimize travel costs thanks to affordable flights on airlines such as JetBlue and Spirit. All the while, honeymooners won't even have to worry about a passport or currency differences. Lisbon, Portugal Like many of its neighbors, Portugal has been hit hard by the recent financial crisis in Europe. In turn, an abundance of hotels have slashed rates in an attempt to attract world travelers. The result is agreeable prices at many of the city's finest properties, including Hotel Britania, a boutique gem situated in Lisbon's historic center. Meanwhile, this colorful city is also home to countless wallet-friendly attractions, restaurants, and experiences. For instance, newlyweds can purchase a Lisbon Card, which grants you free or discounted entrance to all major Lisbon museums, attractions, and tours. It even can transport you around the city on buses, the metro, and trams without charge. Savannah, Georgia On top of being one of America's most charming and romantic cities, this first-rate destination ranks as a top budget spot for its affordable restaurants and accommodations. Case in point: The elegant Kehoe House B&B, where queen rooms can be reserved starting around $159/night. Use this lovely inn as your home base for walking around Savannah's cobblestone streets, wonderful public squares, and riverfront arts district -- all free of charge, of course. Belize Although often overlooked due to its proximity to Mexico and Costa Rica, Belize boasts great value across the board. No matter if you've got a jungle or beach itinerary (or perhaps both), this gorgeous, ecocentric country offers opportunities for every budget. For instance, at top-rated beach resorts such as the Pelican Reef Villas, couples can snag fantastic oceanfront accommodations for less than $300 per night. Looking for a memorable eco-adventure in the jungle? Drop your bags at Chaa Creek resort. Located in the heart of a pristine rainforest, the hotel's camp casitas start at $55/night per person. Perhaps the best part is what's included in your rate: Daily breakfast and dinner, entry into a 365-acre rainforest reserve, guided butterfly farm tours, canoeing on the Macal River, and early morning bird walks. Slovenia In addition to being known for its breathtaking scenery, Slovenia has emerged as a hotspot for budget-minded travelers. One thing that certainly helps is its size. At 7,827 miles, the country is quite compact, making it easy (and cheap) to get around between the mountains, cities, and Adriatic Coast. Additionally, a host of knockout hotel options are just waiting to be discovered in the capital city of Ljubljana. Perfectly situated downtown, Hotel Cubo offers stylish rooms with daily breakfast and free Wi-Fi starting at $210 per night.

Top 5 UK Holiday Cities

Weekends and short breaks away are always a treat, whether you're a university student visiting friends or an older couple looking for a romantic getaway. But jetting off to faraway destinations for just a couple of days can leave you feeling a little unfulfilled, and perhaps more tired than before you left. So why not grab an escape closer to home this summer? Here are my five UK city selections to visit this year. Bath The city of Bath boasts a long history and fascinating architecture throughout. Quieter than the neighbouring city of Bristol, it's the perfect choice for a cultured and ambient short break. Shearings offer group tours exploring Bath and the beautiful surrounding region of Somerset, and be sure to visit during the Bath Fringe Festival if you're an arts fan. Norwich Brimming with literature, music, theatre, visual arts and more, the Norfolkian city of Norwich is one of the UK's most interesting destinations. Picturesque streets that have remained largely unchanged since Medieval times are found all over the city and independent boutiques are situated on every corner. Make sure you pop into The Bicycle Shop for a meal while you're in town, and visit one of the city's many museums and galleries. Brighton Often referred to as London by the sea, Brighton is much more laid back than the British capital itself, but just as trendy and appealing. There's plenty to do in terms of food, drink and nightlife, as well as lots of weird and wonderful sights to photograph and experience. If you visit in May, be prepared to encounter a dazzling array of musical artists from all over the world performing in venues across the city during The Great Escape Festival. Edinburgh Scotland's capital is full of fine food and drink, captivating stories from times past, and a huge number of activities on offer to keep you busy. Take a walk down the city's most famous street, the Royal Mile, climb Arthur's Mound, and sample traditional haggis at one of Edinburgh's many fine restaurants. Plan your trip using Scotland's national tourism organisation, VisitScotland. Manchester Cosmopolitan Manchester is a grand and energetic city. Home to a plethora of museums, galleries, opera houses and theatres, and of course an incredibly well-known football team, you won't be stuck for things to do. Be sure to visit the famous Chester Zoo to spend the day with some of the world's most exotic animals!

Great Canadian Cheese Festival

The third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival takes place on this weekend! The Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair runs Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. RAIN OR SHINE as 80% of the show is indoors. More than 100 exhibitors and vendors, about 125 different Canadian cheeses to sample and buy, and 3,000+ consumers make the event the biggest cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast. One-third of the participating cheese producers come from Québec. This year, we welcome our first cheesemakers from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix are featured, including the Grand Champion Ricotta. CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS ONLINE