48 Hours in Dallas

Dallas is an incredible city. I honestly wouldn’t have found myself there but for a dear friend of mine living in Dallas. I’m so glad I visited because I really enjoyed my trip and would go back in a heartbeat. 

Bishop Arts District

We started the weekend walking around the Bishop Arts District. It’s a super cute neighborhood with plenty of family-run shops. We had lunch at Paradiso, which is self-described as a light, coastal Mediterranean inspired restaurant. The ambiance was light and upbeat. It was a tasty spot for lunch!

Though we didn’t stop at Emporium Pies, we walked right past it, and it smelled amazing! My friend highly recommends Emporium Pies, and if I wasn’t so full I would’ve stopped there for a pie or two! 

Then we enjoyed ciders at the Bishop Cider Co. The ciders were so unique and refreshing. It was a great stop on our journey throughout the Bishop Arts District. We ended our time in Bishop Arts shopping along Bishop Avenue.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Skip the $18 admission to the Dallas Reunion Tower and get a fabulous (FREE) view of the city from the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The bridge is located right next to Trinity Groves, which has a few restaurants. Stop by one of the reflecting pools on the bridge to get a great picture. Parking is free also! 

Legacy West

We ended our Friday night at Legacy West in Plano at Mesero. We enjoyed amazing queso-smothered chicken enchiladas and a mouth-watering cocktail called the Catalina. It was a mix of St. Germain, Grey Goose, citrus, and muddled raspberry. The waiter was conscious of my food allergies and ensured that my chosen meal was allergen free. 

We walked around the Legacy West complex and happened upon a Barnes and Noble Kitchen. As described on their website, the new Barnes & Noble concept store at Legacy West is the first in the southwest to offer not just the latest new novels, but a restaurant with an expanded menu including beer and wine. As the nation’s largest retail bookseller, Barnes & Noble operates more than 600 bookstores across all 50 states. The Legacy West concept store is a place to relax, discover new books, listen to an author speak, and have a glass of wine. Their kitchen doesn’t use peanuts and had gluten free options! 

Dealey Plaza

We started Saturday off driving by Dealey Plaza where JFK was assassinated. We didn’t stop at the Sixth Floor Museum, but it is right next to the Plaza. The Museum, located within the former Texas School Book Depository building, chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Dealey Plaza is very close to Deep Ellum, which was our next stop.

Deep Ellum

For lunch we enjoyed traditional Texas BBQ at Pecan Lodge. This was one of my favorite meals this weekend; the food was scrumptious! I’d never had Texas BBQ before, and Pecan Lodge was the perfect place to try it. They had gluten free options and were sensitive to my food allergies. We waited in line for about 45 minutes at Pecan Lodge. It opens at 11am on Saturdays. Get in line at least 30 minutes beforehand if you don’t want to wait when Pecan Lodge opens. 

TIP: Go in the side door and head to the bar if you got in line late. There are limited seats at the bar, but there will likely be open seats if you get there right when Pecan Lodge opens. 

After lunch we popped by Trinity Cider, which is right next door to Pecan Lodge. We had a great time at Trinity Cider and really enjoyed the cider variety. My favorite ciders were a fresh watermelon cider and a blackberry cider. I wish I could’ve brought them back to Chicago! 

Trinity Cider

After ciders we shopped around Deep Ellum. It reminded me of Bishop Arts District in that both neighborhoods have cute shops to meander through. There was also a small Saturday market with local artisans.  

Downtown Dallas

We found our way to the Klyde Warren Park in Downtown Dallas. It’s a wonderful park with different play areas for kids, a nice walking path, seating for picnics, and an abundance of dogs! We had a gorgeous day and wandered around the park before heading to the Dallas Museum of Art. 

We paid for parking at the Dallas Museum of Art, but admission to the museum itself is free. Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is among the 10 largest art museums in the country. The museum has a variety of styles, so there is something for everyone. I personally love Van Gogh and was thrilled to find one of his pieces at the museum. 

Other

We ended our Saturday at Times Ten Cellars. It was a great way to end the day. I enjoyed a sampler of three wines and a delicious cheesecake. Times Ten Cellars is a great location to relax and enjoy a glass of wine. 

Sunday morning before my flight we enjoyed a breakfast pizza at Pie Tap. Pie Tap has a few locations throughout the Dallas area. Pie Tap was great with my food allergies. I enjoyed the eggs Florentine pizza on a gluten free crust. The gluten free crust was amazing! I also had a blackberry mimosa. This is a great, allergy-friendly, budget restaurant option in the Dallas area. 

I hope you find inspiration to pack your bags for Dallas. I had a wonderful weekend filled with lots of eating, shopping, and exploring the neighborhoods. 

The Best Rooftop View of Paris

I found the best rooftop view of Paris at the top of the Galeries de Lafayette. This truly is the best view of Paris. The greatest part of this excursion is that it’s free! One of my hostel mates recommended the Galeries de Lafayette. I took the metro to the Opera station and came out right in front of the Opera building also known as the Palais Garnier. I snapped a few pictures of the building because it’s incredible and then walked to the back of the building. The Galeries de Lafayette is right behind the Opera building. 

Front of the Palais Garnier

There is one main entrance when you arrive at the Galeries de Lafayette. Everyone is shuffled into the main entrance behind the Opera building, and you’ll see a set of escalators on the right. There are elevators and stairs to the terrace, but the escalator was easier and less of a wait. 

I took the escalators to the terrace view, which is 7 floors up. There are signs that tell you when you’re close to the terrace. You get a gorgeous view of all of Paris. I spent probably an hour up there admiring the view. On the way down, take the escalator just one floor down, and you’ll find a variety of gift shops and cafes. There’s a free bathroom on this level too, which was hard for me to find in Paris. The Galeries de Lafayette terrace view is the absolute best rooftop view of Paris!

Palais Garnier

6 Hours in Copenhagen

I’ve been to Copenhagen before and knew some of what I wanted to do on my layover in the city. I first took the metro to the Nørreport Station and first decided to grab a bite. I found Cafe Vivaldi and had a delicious meal. Cafe Vivaldi had plenty of allergy friendly selections including different sandwiches, salads, and soups. Cafe Vivaldi even offers dairy free options for their coffee and espresso drinks. The cafe had an outdoor and indoor section. The decor is super cool inside, so if it’s cold outside, a seat inside will definitely suffice. 

After lunch I decided to do some shopping on Strøget, which is Copenhagen’s famous shopping street. You’ll find elegant boutiques and common stores like H&M and Zara. My favorite budget shop is Only, which we don’t have in the US. Strøget is great to walk along and get a feel for the city. 

I ended my layover by walking along the water and getting pictures in the town square. If you have more time you can visit some of the city’s historic buildings: Børsen, Thorvaldsens Museum and Christiansborg Palace

City Center

Last time I was in Copenhagen I really enjoyed watching the Danish Royal Guard march from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace for the Changing of the Guard ceremony. At the time of this article the ceremony takes place daily with the guard leaving Rosenborg Castle at 11:30 to arrive at Amalienborg Palace for the ceremony at 12:00.

That’s about as much as you can squeeze into a 6 hour layover in Copenhagen. You’ll get a great sample of the city, and I guarantee it’ll make you want to return!

You will find bikes everywhere!

Copenhagen Airport Layover Tips

On my way to Paris I had a 6 hour layover in Copenhagen, which was just enough time to head into the city. I listed a few tips below to help with the logistics of going through customs, finding the luggage lockers, and taking the metro into the city.

Copenhagen Customs

I landed at Copenhagen Airport Terminal 3 and quickly went through customs. If you land at Terminal 3 do not go through the far right customs lane. This lane defers to flight attendants and pilots first, so I waited a few minutes while the crew went through this customs lane before I opted for a different lane. It still only took me 10 minutes or so to go through customs. I recommend avoiding the far right customs lane because you’ll be waiting longer than the other lines simply because that lane allows flight crew through first.

P4 luggage lockers are right behind the tan and white arrow wall.
Luggage Lockers
Pay Station for the luggage lockers.
Luggage Lockers
Luggage Lockers

After customs I went to find the luggage lockers. The luggage lockers are located in parking garage P4, which is across the street from Terminal 1. I walked down to Terminal 1 and saw the P4 sign. When you cross the street for P4 you’ll see a wall with giant white and tan arrows (pictured above). The lockers are immediately behind that wall. Follow the instructions on the screen and you’ll pay with either a Mastercard or Visa. Keep the receipt because it has the code you’ll need when you return to get your luggage. 

Hallway headed towards P4
DSB ticket counter
Finding the Metro

After dropping off my luggage I walked to Terminal 2 and followed the signs for the metro. As you walk towards the metro, you’ll see a large, red section for DSB train tickets on the right (pictured above). I skipped this and continued towards the metro because you can get metro tickets right before you hop on the metro. The airport metro station is the last station on that line. You can hop on either side, and the metro will take you to the city center. I recommend getting off at either Kongens Nytorv or Nørreport Station. Kongens Nytorv is a public square in Copenhagen, Denmark, centrally located at the end of the pedestrian street Strøget. Nørreport Station is located in the district of Indre By, and is named after the historic Nørreport city gate, near the original location. 

Copenhagen Airport Metro Station
Copenhagen Airport Metro Station

I hope these tips help you navigate the Copenhagen Airport on a layover. If you have time it’s definitely worth going into the city center!

Charles de Gaulle Tips

Charles de Gaulle was not my favorite airport. It generally seemed like a poorly-designed mess. I was stressed the whole time I was there. Terminal 1 has a very odd design because there are people-movers in giant plastic tubes to take you from one floor to another. You can look out of the plastic lining and see all the other people-movers in the center of the Terminal. It looks like hamster tubes all over the airport. I got to the right floor, found the set of gates I needed, and then had to take another, long people-mover to the gates. The positive part is security is very fast. There is security at each of the gate groups, so I only had to go through security with other people going to gates 70-78. I have a few tips below that may seem obvious but are necessary reminders for traveling through Charles de Gaulle. 

Charles de Gaulle Hamster People Mover
Charles de Gaulle People Mover to Gates

1. Get to Charles de Gaulle Really Early

I mean really early! I normally fly out of Chicago O’Hare and thought that was busy, but Charles de Gaulle gives “busy” a whole new meaning. I took a shuttle bus from my hostel to the airport at 7:30am for an 11:10am flight. We had a slight detour to pick up another group before heading to the airport. We hit major traffic because it was rush hour. Then we hit heavy traffic at the airport because it was the start of a French holiday when I was traveling. Additionally, the trains were only partially running to the airport because of a strike, so that just added to the number of people taking cabs to the airport. The airport has a wacky design too, so there was generally an abundance of traffic. Thankfully I had plenty of time before my flight. Charles de Gaulle was a hoppin’ airport, so I recommend getting there really early. 

2. Eat Before You Go Through Security

I flew out of Terminal 1, which is an older terminal. It’s hub-shaped with different spokes coming out of the center as the different terminals. If you are hungry there are 4 restaurants including McDonalds and Starbucks on the -1 level at Terminal 1 before security. I wish I’d grabbed a coffee prior to going through security because there is only 1 cafe, 1 duty free shop, and 1 convenience store past security for the gate I needed. Security was fast because there appear to be security lines at each of the group of gates. My group of gates was 70-78, and there was security just for this group. I ate at the one cafe while waiting for my flight, but the line was huge given it was the only cafe on this side of security. Perhaps there are more post-security food options in different terminals. I recommend grabbing food before going through security.

3. Charge Your Devices Before You Get To The Gate

As I write this, I’m at 14% battery, and there is no plug in sight. Well, there are a few scattered outlets, but they are all in use. Other passengers scooped up the open plugs immediately. At other airports I’ve had no trouble finding outlets to charge my devices. Terminal 1 only has a few charging stations, and they only have 3 outlets per charging station. Also, there’s almost no wifi in Terminal 1. Again, maybe this is different at the other terminals. There is wifi, but it was spotty at best; don’t rely on consistent wifi. I was connected for maybe 10 minutes. 

I hope these reminders help you on your next journey through Charles de Gaulle!

The one cafe after security for gates 70-78.

Navigating Madrid Barajas

I’ve flown Iberia into Madrid Barajas Airport several times, mostly with layovers before flying to other countries in Europe. Madrid Barajas is one of the more complicated airports I’ve flown into especially when transferring. 

Coming from the United States you’ll land at Terminal 4S and need to make your way to Terminal 4 if you’re transferring. After landing everyone will be funneled towards passport control. I’ve had to immediately go through passport control when landing at any European country from the United States. Madrid Barajas was no different. 

Right before passport control you’ll see a departure screen listing all upcoming flights. You’ll know what letter (H, K, L, etc.) within Terminal 4 you’ll have to find.  

You’ll see two lines for passport control. The first is for European Union (EU) citizens, and the second is for those holding United States passports. The United States passport line is a bit hidden. The EU line is immediately on your right hand side. If you have a United States passport, you’ll keep walking towards what looks like a dead end. Then you’ll see an opening on the right to enter passport control. 

After going through passport control if you’re staying in Madrid you’ll leave and get your baggage. If you’re continuing to another flight, you’ll take the elevator or escalator to the bottom floor. From there you’ll catch the tram going to Terminal 4. Terminal 4 has all the connecting flights within Europe. The tram takes 4 minutes to get to Terminal 4. From there you’ll go up two flights of escalators and go through security. You won’t be able to bring any water bottles or drinks from your last flight, so be sure to finish them before you go through security. As soon as you’re through security you’re good to go. Happy Traveling!

Sunrise over Madrid

The Three Best Restaurants in Munich

My first favorite restaurant in Munich is California Bean. This is a great breakfast spot. I happened upon it when I was looking for a different restaurant. California Bean has an allergen friendly menu. The main menu also notes if certain items has preservatives, dyes, sulphates, etc. I noticed that at several restaurants, which is a great practice. 

California Bean
California Bean additive list
Breakfast including a gluten free baguette
Honey Macchiato

I had a honey macchiato and a classic breakfast of eggs, bacon, and a warm gluten free baguette. California Bean had plenty of gluten free options. I’m so glad I happened upon this restaurant because it was a tasty, allergen-friendly option for me!

The next restaurant I recommend is Bohne & Malz am Stachus. Bohne & Malz is in the Old Town area of Munich. They’re open all day and don’t close between lunch and dinner. I greatly appreciate this because I was hungry for dinner at 4pm; thank you jet lag! Like California Bean, the Bohne & Malz menu listed allergens and other additives. The menu had English and scientific names of the allergens like “corylus avellana” for hazelnut. I enjoyed the Viennese Schnitzel with cranberries, a side salad, and fries. My meal was mouthwatering and absolutely delicious. I highly recommend Bohne & Malz!

Bohne & Malz list of additives and allergens
Viennese Schnitzel

Schiller Brau Schnitzel

Finally, I loved Schiller Brau for dinner. Their website states that patrons can sit by copper brewing kettles in rustic atmosphere and enjoy our home-brewed and enjoy unfiltered beer specialties and traditional favorite dishes inspired by grandma’s kitchen. The ambiance was “gesellig,” a German term for cozy. This was my first time having schnitzel, and I loved it. The pork schnitzel cut like butter and was so tender. The fries were crisp and perfectly salted. This is a must-visit restaurant if you’re in Munich. Make sure you make a reservation. I showed up right at 6pm and found a seat at the bar. Others showing up just a few minutes after me couldn’t even get a seat at the bar.

Munich Art Scene

I spent most of my time in Munich at museums. I recommend getting an art day pass for 12 Euro. You get access to Alte Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne, Museum Brandhorst, Sammlung Schack. Neue Pinakothek was included in the day pass, but it’s currently closed for renovations. I only ended up going to Pinakothek der Moderne, Museum Brandhorst, and Alte Pinakothek in one day, and I felt I got my money’s worth out of the day pass. 

Pinakothek der Moderne has a large collection of modern and contemporary art works by Picasso, Magritte, Kandinsky, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol. This was my favorite art museum I visited because of the variety of works. 

Pinakothek der Moderne
Pinakothek der Moderne
Pinakothek der Moderne

Pinakothek der Moderne
Pinakothek der Moderne

Museum Brandhorst is currently celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Museum Brandhorst is relatively new on the Munich art scene with permanent exhibitions including pieces by Damien Hirst, Joseph Beuys, and Andy Warhol, including his “Marilyn” portrait. Sunday entry is just 1 Euro. The audio guide was free, and I really enjoyed learning about the works through the audio guide. 

Brandhorst
Outside of the Brandhorst
Brandhorst
Brandhorst

Alte Pinakothek has numerous old Flemish and Dutch paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. It even has a rare Rembrandt self-portrait. Alte Pinakothek also has Italian artworks from the 14th to 18th centuries including Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna with the Carnation, from 1475 and a broad collection of medieval German paintings from the 15th and early 16th centuries. The Rubens collection is one of the world’s largest, and Spanish and French masterpieces are also represented. Because Neue Pinakothek is closed, there are also works of Van Gogh, Manet, and Monet in Alte Pinakothek. That section was my favorite of the museum. There are audio guides available, but I opted to wander on my own. 

Alte Pinakothek
Van Gogh
Rembrandt
Cezanne

On my last day in Munich I went to the Lenbachhaus Art Gallery. Lenbachhaus Art Gallery is housed in the historic villa that once belonged to master painter Franz von Lenbach. The museum has been home to the world’s largest collection of art by the Blue Rider movement, including pieces by Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, Franz Marc and many more. I arrived around noon and had the opportunity to see the Kunstbau gallery. The Kunstbau is a subterraneous gallery on the mezzanine level of the Königsplatz subway station. The audio guide for the Kunstbau was free, so I took advantage of it.

Andy Warhol in Lenbachhaus
Lenbachhaus Advertisement
Outside of Lenbachhaus
Kunstbau Gallery

All of the galleries I went to had a locker room and coat check. The coat check cost between 1-2 Euro. I recommend using the lockers because those end up being free. You need a 1 or 2 Euro coin that you put into the locker to get the key. Then when you come back and open the locker, the coin is released back to you. This system seemed to be uniform throughout the museums in Munich, so I always made sure I had a 1 or 2 Euro coin on me.

Lenbachhaus
Lenbachhaus

Munich Overview

Logistics

I booked my trip to Munich about nine months in advance because I knew I’d have MLK Day off of work and school. Google Flights alerted me that I could fly to Munich for $362 roundtrip, so I bought it! I had a short layover in Madrid, which was no bother to me. For that price, I couldn’t turn down a trip to Europe. I booked the long weekend trip having no prior knowledge of Munich, and I’m glad I did. It was a great, long weekend trip.

Lodging

I booked the Wombat’s Hostel in the center of Munich for $77 USD total for three nights. This location is a two minute walk from Munich’s central train station, which is why I picked it. However, I would not stay here again. 

I’ve had really positive experiences at other hostels, so this one was a let down. The staff was very kind, but the hostel procedures were odd to me. Every guest has to give some sort of identification card with a picture in order to get a key card for the room. Wombat’s holds the card, like a student ID or library card, until you check out to ensure you return your room key. I thankfully had a student ID on me; otherwise, I’m not sure what I would’ve done! Wombat’s doesn’t advertise this procedure to you prior to check in. 

Additionally, Wombat’s cleaning services are minimal. When I got to my room I found my bed undressed with a pillow and quilt, no pillow case or sheets. It didn’t appear the quilt had been cleaned since the last guest. The cleaning staff came in and gave me sheets to dress my bed. My other roommates didn’t dress their beds, so they just slept on the pillow and bed sans sheets. It didn’t seem like the cleaning staff cleaned often. The procedures seemed a bit unsanitary. When I checked out I had to bring down my linens and towel to the front desk. 

Finally, I was bummed by the number of people in the hostel who didn’t want to socialize. I’ve enjoyed getting to know travelers at other hostels, and this was not the case at Wombats. They give everyone a welcome drink ticket to use during happy hour, but everyone at happy hour was on their phones or laptops. No one talked to each other; it was pretty awkward. 

My stay at Wombat’s was just okay. The location was great for walking around the city, but that really was the only positive for me. I’d recommend finding a different hostel.

Transportation

I pretty much walked everywhere in the city aside from arriving and leaving Munich. There are trams that run on the major streets, which is a quick and easy way to get from one side of the city to the other.

Arriving in Munich was very easy; visitors landing at Munich International Airport can take the S-Bahn either S1 or S8 trains into the city. When I landed I followed the green signs for S-Bahn and found the train I needed. It took about 50 minutes to get to Munich Hbf. The train announces the stops in English and German. Most passengers were getting off at this stop too, so it was hard to miss. 

The trains run almost 24 hours a day, so I was able to catch a 5am train back to the Munich airport for my returning flight. The staff at Wombat’s told me that the S1 train splits in half sometimes, so I should sit in the back of that train to ensure I wasn’t in the part of the train that split in the wrong direction. I was back at the airport within 50 minutes. 

Cafe Juli

I decided to dedicate an entire blog post to Cafe Juli because it’s one of my favorite cafes in the world. I ate there twice over the course of a short, four-day trip in Aachen. I cannot speak highly enough about Cafe Juli. Cafe Juli is a vegetarian restaurant with organic products. If you are in Aachen, this is my #1 recommended restaurant. 

On my first visit to Cafe Juli, I was welcomed by the warm ambiance and smell of fresh baked goods. The first day I went was on a Friday around 1pm, and it was relatively empty. The waiters said I could sit wherever I like, so I found a cozy corner with a comfy chair. The mismatched furniture and displays of baked goods really add to the cozy feeling Cafe Juli exudes. 

The menu details Cafe Juli’s use of organic products.

The second day we went was on a Sunday right when Cafe Juli opened, and the restaurant was packed. The waiter squeezed us in at a table that had a reservation in an hour, so we ate quickly. I recommend making a reservation on weekends or showing up right when Cafe Juli opens to snag one of the few open tables.  

Cafe Juli offers an English menu, and some of the waiters speak English. I showed the waiter my list of food allergies, which I had translated to German. She noted my allergies and confirmed that the meal I ordered was safe for me to eat. 

Breakfast Day 1
Our meals on our second trip to Cafe Juli

I ordered the basic breakfast both days, and it was nothing short of scrumptious. It consisted of a warm roll, cheeses, apple slices, a hard boiled egg, jam, a small salad, and a healthy dose of the best butter I’ve ever had. I am obsessed with their butter; it had to be homemade.

I also enjoyed a refreshing iced caramel latte and a pumpkin spice latte. I was thrilled to have a pumpkin spice latte in late November, which normally doesn’t happen in the United States. My mouth is watering just writing this post. I hope if you find yourself in Aachen that you eat at Cafe Juli.

The outside of Cafe Juli
Pumpkin Spice Latte
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