A cart full of luggage -- the odds yours will be returned to you are high.

The Traveling Woman’s Guide to How to Deal with Lost Luggage

Lost luggage can be a nightmare, if you let it be. Here are some tips to avoid it happening in the first place, and others to help you stay cool and deal with it as efficiently as possible if it happens.

It’s the nightmare of every woman who travels. You’re standing at the baggage carousel at your arrival airport. Suitcases clunk onto the circling surface to glide slowly around. One by one, your fellow passengers heft their bags off and roll away. You wait for yours, tapping your foot. And you wait. And wait. Finally, everyone is gone, and no more bags are coming up the chute. Your suitcase has not appeared. You are the victim of the Lost Luggage Gremlins, and it’s not any fun at all. And worrying that it might happen is a source of pre-trip stress for many older women travelers, especially if they travel solo.

An empty airport baggage carousel can signal the worst--you're a victim on the lost luggage gremlins.

The nightmare of the empty airport baggage carousel–which never delivered your suitcase to you after your flight.

Are You Worried About Missing Luggage When You Travel?

My first piece of advice is… relax. Airlines have improved their baggage handling systems hugely in recent years. In fact, according to the US Department of Transportation, airlines now file 70% fewer mishandled baggage reports than they did ten years ago. Fewer than two bags for every 1000 passengers are lost, stolen, or delayed, the lowest rate since 1987, the year they first started tracking those numbers. Most delayed bags are returned to their owners within 48 hours. After a week, the odds are even better. The chances your bag will be well and truly lost forever are only about 1 in 10,000.

Also, there are some steps you can take to help avoid becoming one of those statistics. And others that will help you recover it if it does fall into the black hole of lost baggage.

How to Help the Airline Not Lose Your Luggage

The first rule for NOT ending up with lost luggage is this: Carry it with you. If the airline doesn’t have custody of your bag, they can’t lose it. I decided a few years ago that for most trips, if I can’t carry it on the plane, I won’t take it. Now I travel carry-on only. On my last big trip to Europe, which involved four countries spread over nine weeks, I took one roll-on bag plus a small backpack as my personal item. There was nothing I didn’t have that I missed, and I found I had taken things I’ll leave home next time. (How to do that efficiently and still have everything you need to be comfortable and look good is material for another post.)

A carry-on bag you can handle yourself and don't have to check is the best way to avoid lost luggage.

The airline can’t lose the suitcase you don’t give them. Traveling carry-on only is the way to go. Photo by Resi Kling on Unsplash

If you still think you need to check a bag, be sure to pack some essentials in your carry-on suitcase or backpack. If your checked bag gets lost, you’ll suffer far less hassle if you have access to these items:

  • Any prescription medications, glasses, and irreplaceable personal items
  • All travel documents, passport, visas, itineraries, and confirmations
  • Basic toiletries, in case you need to spend a night or two without your luggage
  • A set of clean underwear, a change of clothes, and something to sleep in
  • Electronics, camera, jewelry, and anything else valuable
  • A photograph of your checked suitcase to help the airline recognize and identify it. On your cellphone is fine.
  • The claim check for your bag, usually attached to your boarding pass

Before Your Trip—How to Avoid Lost Luggage

There are some steps you can take to help insure that your bag gets off the plane when you do and makes its way back to you. And you can begin them the day you start studying flight routes and preparing to book your flight.

US passport and boarding pass

Keep all your important documents with you onboard the airplane.

  1. Fly direct whenever possible. It just makes sense. If your luggage doesn’t have to change airplanes for a connection, there’s less chance for it to get lost. Look for non-stop or direct flights whenever possible. They are also way less stressful. No worrying about making a tight connection, running through the airport, locating the right gate.
  2. If you must take a connecting flight, stay on the same airline if possible and look for a connection with plenty of time. Most lost baggage by far drops off the radar because of a tight connection. If your first flight is delayed, making your connection even tighter, it is almost certain to NOT make it onto the same plane as you. The more time between flights, the more likely it is that your bag will fly with you.
  3. Arrive at the airport early. If you get to the check-in counter late, there’s a chance they might not even let you check your bag. And if they do, the bag might not make it along the conveyor, out the door and onto the plane with you. Give everyone plenty of time to do their job.
  4. Give your bag a distinct look. A unique color, some strong design on the outside, something attached that makes it easily identifiable, make it less likely that someone else will pull your bag off the carrousel by mistake.
  5. Make sure your bag is clearly marked, inside and out, with detailed contact information for you, including a phone number where you can be reached. If you know where you will be at every stage of your trip, include a copy of your itinerary with address and contact info for each location where you will be staying.
  6. Watch the check-in clerk tag your bag. Know the airport code for your final destination airport and check that they put the correct strip on your suitcase.
  7. Consider investing in a luggage tracker, a GPS or cell-tower connected device you put in your suitcase. Load an app onto your phone, and the baggage tracker can tell you exactly where your bag is at any time.
Baggage handlers have a lot of luggage to deal with for every flight, like this guy with a full airport baggage cart. Give them time to do their job.

Help your airline’s baggage handlers help you to not lose your luggage. Check in early so they have time to load your bag. If you have a connecting flight, leave enough time between flights for them to transfer your bag to your next flight.

What to Do If Your Luggage Still Gets Lost

OK, so the worst has happened. You’re staring at that empty baggage carousel and your bag has not arrived. Here’s what to do next:

  1. Check other carousels nearby, the airline’s baggage office and the holding area. It’s possible your bag is there. I’ve actually had that happen. Panic stemmed; disaster averted.
  2. Even if it’s not there, don’t panic. It won’t help you get your bag back and it will make the process both less efficient and more miserable. Take a deep breath, put on your most efficient and friendly manner and swing into action. Get yourself organized before making a report. Retrieve your bag claim check (the barcode on it will streamline the airline’s process for finding it). Pull up the phone photo you took earlier of your bag—you did do that, didn’t you?—to show airline staff.
  3. Go to the airline baggage office immediately to file a report. Make sure they know how to contact you and where you will be. And be certain to get a reference number/tracking code for your report.
  4. Don’t leave without a contact number and web address for monitoring the progress of the search for your lost baggage.
  5. Ask for emergency supplies. Many airlines will give you a toiletries kit if you are likely to be away from your bag overnight.
  6. Check your travel insurance, whether it’s a purchased policy or one included with your credit card. Many cards include reimbursement for lost or delayed luggage if you bought the flight with their card.
  7. Ask about the airline’s delayed baggage compensation policy. If it’s going to be more than 24 hours before you get your bag, you might be reimbursed for some clothing and other necessary items.
  8. Follow up with the airline after 24 hours. Also, request a refund of your checked baggage fee if you paid one. They are required to give you this refund if your luggage is lost or delayed.

What You Are Entitled to if Your Luggage is Really Lost

Most lost bags are found in fairly short order and delivered to you by the airline. If your luggage simply missed your flight, it will usually arrive on the next flight and you’ll have it within a few hours. If it went to the wrong destination, it might be a day or more until you are reunited with your belongings. The odds that you will eventually be reunited are strongly in your favor.

A cart full of luggage -- the odds yours will be returned to you are high.

The odds that your missing luggage will eventually be found and returned to you are very high.
The chance it will be lost forever are about 1-in-10,000

If the worst happens, and your bag has disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of lost luggage, you have some rights. The airline must reimburse you for the contents of your luggage, within limits, up to a maximum of $3500 for US domestic flights. For international flights, which are covered by the Montreal Convention, the maximum lost baggage compensation is $1600. You must fill out two forms—the original lost luggage form and a second claim for proof of loss. You will have to provide an inventory of the lost items and may need to provide receipts for expensive items.

Don’t expect a fast turnaround on your claim; it can take weeks and probably will. The airline will continue to look for your bag, but if it has not turned up within 21 days, it will be considered lost. Your claim will then be processed for payment. The airline will, however, keep looking for your bag. They are required by law to continue the search for 90 days.

If all else fails, and you remain unsatisfied with your airline’s attempts to retrieve your bag or with the compensation you get, you can report your case to the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

What happens to bags that are never reunited with their owners? Mostly, they get sent to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, a 40,000-square-foot store in Scottsboro, Alabama, 45 miles east of Huntsville. If you are traveling that way, be sure to stop in and have a look. It’s like the world’s biggest thrift shop!

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Järnpojke, Iron boy, sits on a small iron table covered with coins from many nations, candy, flowers, and other gifts to bring luck.

The Iron Boy Järnpojke: Stockholm’s Smallest Monument

Järnpojke, aka “Iron Boy,” is so small you might miss him. In fact, he’s the smallest monument in all of Sweden. But going in search of him is worth the trip when you’re in Stockholm. And don’t forget to make a wish!

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There’s someone in Stockholm I want you to meet. He is very small, a little boy. He likes to dress up in hand-knitted scarves and hats in the cold Stockholm winters and sun hats on hot summer days. He enjoys receiving presents and having his head patted. And he loves looking at the moon.

Järnpojke, Iron boy, sits on a small iron table covered with coins from many nations, candy, flowers, and other gifts to bring luck.

Meet Järnpojke, aka Iron Boy or The Boy Who Looks at the Moon. At less than 6″ high, he is Stockholm’s smallest monument.

His name is Järnpojke, which translates as “Iron Boy,” because that’s what he’s made of. He’s easy to miss because he’s less than 6 inches/15 cm high. He sits on an iron bench, his legs pulled up and his arms wrapped around his knees, with his face turned toward the sky. That’s why he is also called “The Boy Who Looks at the Moon.” A visit to see him is one of the nicest things to do in Gamla Stan, the city’s Old Town, the most charming and delightful part of Stockholm.

A Stockholm Secret Attraction Tucked Into a Small Garden

As with Copenhagen’s underwater statue of Agnete and the Merman I posted about earlier, most Stockholm guidebooks don’t mention The Iron Boy. Finding him is a bit of a trick, which is why he’s sometimes called a “secret attraction.” His perch sits at one end of a tiny courtyard garden behind the Finnish Church, just a few yards from Stockholm Palace.

I don’t think I ever would have stumbled on Järnpojke by myself. I was led there by our guide on an Old Town Walkabout: Guided Tour of Gamla Stan I found through Get Your Guide. The perfect introduction to Stockholm’s Old Town, it showed me things I never would have found on my own. It also gave me a grounding for wandering about solo later on. That’s why I always search out a walking tour when I get to a new city, and this Gamla Stan walking tour was a good one.

The Iron Boy was first created in 1954 by local artist Liss Eriksson. He was positioned on his little table and placed in the courtyard in 1967. Supposedly, Eriksson had a studio overlooking that courtyard at the time and got tired of how boring his view was. He decided to dress up the space with a piece of art. Also, it’s said that Eriksson, who died in 2000, suffered his whole life from insomnia and spent a lot of time staring at the moon hanging in the night-dark sky. So perhaps “The Boy Who Looks at the Moon” is a bit of a self-portrait.

Järnpojke wrapped in a dark, hand-knit cap and scarf against the Swedish chill.

Local people often dress Järnpojke up, especially in the Swedish winters when he’s often seen in hand-knitted hats and scarves.

One of the most charming things about Järnpojke is how much this little Iron Boy is loved and cared for by the local people. During the long and cold Swedish winters, he’s often wrapped in tiny hand-knit woolen scarves and a warm knitted cap. In summer, it’s not unusual to find him wearing Barbie-sized sunglasses. On rainy days, he may be protected by a tiny umbrella or wrapped in a plastic poncho to keep him snug. Apparently, he has quite the wardrobe. Very often, flowers, candy, even cheese, fruit, or other snacks and random gifts decorate his table as offerings. The day I was there, someone had left him a lady’s watch and some cookies.

Always there are coins from many nations. People leave coins as both a thank you and a plea. For the Iron Boy is said to have magical powers that bring good luck. If you pat his little head three times and make a wish, it’s sure to come true within a year. Others say if you pat him, you will return to Stockholm. His forehead gleams from decades of people seeking his blessing. The Finnish church collects the coins surrounding the boy and adds them to a fund to help needy kids in Finland.

How to Find Järnpojke, the Iron Boy

A Gamla Stan Walking Tour will show you this and many other charms in Stockholm’s Old Town, and I highly recommend booking one. However, if you prefer to venture out to search for Iron Boy on your own, begin at the obelisk in front of the Royal Palace. With your back to the palace, look forward and a bit to your left to the narrow street called Bollhusstäppen and the yellow-orange building of the Finnish Church, the Finska Kyrkan. To the right of the church, walk a few yards/meters up that narrow street to the courtyard in the back of the church on your left. Iron Boy is at the far end of the garden courtyard. You can click on this link to Google Maps to find the exact spot.

A tourist rubs Järnpojke's head for good luck.

Järnpojke’s iron head has been worn shiny smooth by decades of beseeching hands patting him for good luck.


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The dutch Pea Soup, or "snert' at Moeder's Restaurant in Amsterdam, is the closest I've found to homemade.

Traditional Dutch Pea Soup Recipe–the Taste of Family and Memory

In a country not famous for gourmet food, real Dutch Pea Soup stands out as one of the Netherlands’ great contributions to the culinary world. Hearty, filling, and redolent with the scents of peas and pork, of memory and home. This old family recipe takes me back to an Amsterdam apartment and a dinner table surrounded by love.

The Oranjebrug--Orange Bridge--over the Browersgracht canal in Amsterdam, in summer.

Ah, Amsterdam, you are so beautiful, especially with the green of summer and fresh flowers all around.
Is it any wonder I fell in love with you all those decades ago?

Food and Memory–Lifelong Triggers

Many years ago, I lived in Amsterdam. Beautiful city… city of my heart. It was my first time traveling outside the US, my first time living so far from my family. I had a dream job doing what I always wanted to do, a nice place to live, and a busload of wonderful friends, both Dutch and other ex-pats. It was then I fell in love with Holland and the Dutch, a love that has never faded.

When my dream job ended after several months and I could no longer afford my own place, a Dutch friend, Inez Hendriks, invited me to move in with her. It was another step in my education in “being Dutch.” Every Tuesday, Inez went home to her parents’ apartment for a family dinner. Once I moved in, I was “family” too. So of course, I was expected for Tuesday dinner as well.

Mevrouw Hendriks was a good, basic home cook. One Dutch specialty after another appeared on her lace-covered table—hutspot (a one-pot meal of potatoes, carrots, onions and a smoked sausage or meatballs), stamppot (potatoes mashed with a vegetable, often kale), kibbeling (chunks of white fish breaded and fried), pork chops, sausages, stewed pears. But my favorite, the one that always had me thinking “I hope… I hope…” as Inez and I strolled together along the canals toward her house, was Erwtensoep, the thick and smoky, traditional Dutch Pea Soup. It’s so much a part of Dutch family meals that it has a nickname… snert.

A bowl of hearty Dutch Pea soup, so thick it's more stew than soup.  This is what the Dutch call Erwtensoep, or  more commonly "snert."

Of course I don’t have a photo of Mev. Hendriks’ Dutch Pea Soup, after all these decades. But this is close… a bowl of goodness so thick it’s more stew than soup. Photo by the Master Experimenter on flickr. CC 2.0 license

Dutch Pea Soup had been a favorite of mine almost since the day I arrived in Amsterdam. During my days of being pretty broke, I often stopped into a workingman’s café for lunch of a steaming bowl of erwtensoep met broodje, pea soup and a soft white roll spread thick with butter. I slurped it up surrounded by Dutchmen young and old, mostly dressed in blue coveralls and wearing soft caps, hurrying to get the last drops before heading back to work. Back then, such a lunch cost less than a dollar. It was a filling and tasty meal.

Some cooks add potatoes to the peas, some dump in schunks of carrot. Fancier cooks might add a few dollops of sour cream on top. But to me, Mev. Hendriks’ homey snert was the best. Always the best.

Memory can play tricks on us. On recent visits, I’ve never managed to find Dutch erwtensoep in any Amsterdam restaurant with quite the same richness and depth of flavor as Mev. Hendriks’. Is it because hers was seasoned with love and a warm welcome that really did make me feel like family? Was it because it’s hard to find a restaurant in Amsterdam with a traditional tablecloth trimmed in lace, with white lace curtains at the windows, and with the perfume of Mijnheer Hendriks’ scented pipe tobacco still hanging in the air? Perhaps.

Eating Dutch Pea Soup at Moeders

The Dutch Pea Soup, or "snert' at Moeders Restaurant in Amsterdam, is the closest I've found to homemade.

Try this Dutch Pea Soup–Erwtensoep–at Moeders, in Amsterdam. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to Mev. Hendriks’ home-made snert. Served with fresh bread and a little pot of house-made hummus.

I continue to search for the real thing on every trip back. The closest I’ve found is served by my favorite restaurant in Amsterdam, and it’s got just the right name: Moeders… Mothers. It offers a slightly modernized take on traditional Dutch food. It’s smallish, with tables pushed close together. The dishes and glassware are mismatched and homey, walls are lined on every side with photos of mothers… brought by years’ worth of patrons wanting to add their mom to this great altar to motherhood and mom’s cooking. See my full review of Moeders here.

But when I want true Dutch Pea Soup, the one that brings back that cozy apartment, soft Dutch accents, and my struggles with the language, I make my own using Mev. Hendriks’ recipe. I’ve been carrying it around the world for over 45 years and through more than a dozen moves. She was a “handful of this and pinch of that” cook, so her measurements were guesses. But I’ve made this soup several times and they seem to work. The celeriac/celery root is a crucial ingredient to get the flavor true, but it may be difficult for some to find. You can substitute chopped celery hearts with the green tops and a bit of celery seed. It won’t be exact, but it will be close.

Mevrouw Hendrik’s Echte Hollandse Erwtensoep (Real Dutch Pea Soup)

(Copied from a page in my journal, dated December 8, 1971)

INGREDIENTS

  • 750 grams/1½ lb. dried split peas
  • 1 medium celeriac (celery root), diced
  • 2-3 large green onions, chopped
  • 1 med. onion, finely chopped
  • ½ lb sliced pork (with fat) or one ham hock
  • 1 med. beef cutlet or 1 lg. slice ham, cooked
  • 1 large smoked sausage, sliced into large chunks
  • Salt, parsley & garlic powder

PROCEDURE

Wash the peas and let them soak for a few hours. Then bring to a boil over medium heat.
Add the celery root, green onions, and onion. Stir well. Let cook 1-1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until peas are soft.
Add sliced pork or ham hock and the beef cutlet or ham, shredded into small pieces. Cook another 30 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes, add the sliced smoked sausage.
Season with salt, parsley, and a little garlic powder to taste.
Serve with soft white rolls slathered with good butter.

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Three bottles of rum ready for tasting at Outer Banks Distilling, in Manteo, North Carolina

Rum Days at Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, NC

On a visit to Outer Banks Distilling, in Manteo, on the beautiful North Carolina Outer Banks, prepare to be shocked… then delighted… and then oh so mellow.

Three bottles of rum ready for tasting at Outer Banks Distilling, in Manteo, North Carolina

The Shock of the Raw… Rum in the Making

Raw rum, right from the still is…an experience. A pretty shocking one at that. As a small glass of the stuff was handed to me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I held it to my nose. Whoa! The fumes knocked my head back. Gingerly, I brought mouth and glass together and sipped. Whoa again! At first touch, my lips were burning. Within seconds, my tongue was numb.

“At this point, it’s 180 proof,” said Scott Smith, one of the four owners of Outer Banks Distilling, who was leading my group on a tour. “It’s got a long way to go before it’s drinkable.” He was not exaggerating.

I’m not a heavy drinker by any stretch, but I do like rum. It has long been my spirit of choice. Hot and buttered, mixed into a Cuba Libra, with a tropical Latin touch a la mojitos and piña coladas, most of the cocktails I actually enjoy include rum. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the first “legal” distillery on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Even better was the chance to taste several of their flavored Kill Devil Rums and see where and how these deeply-flavored spirits are made.

Note: My trip to Outer Banks Distilling was sponsored by the Outer Banks Visitors’ Bureau, to whom I am very grateful. Their generosity had no effect on my opinions expressed here. I truly was blown away.

Four Men and a Passion

Opened in 2015, the distillery was started by four local pals—two brewers and two bartenders. Bonded by their common love for good beer and rum, they decided they wanted to kick the Outer Banks alcoholic scene up a notch. They started a self-designed crash course in rum, including the horrible sacrifice of sampling as many kinds of rum as they could get their hands on.

They taste-tested rums from the Caribbean, from Fiji, and from other US craft distilleries. They took university courses in distilling and tried and tested everything they were learning until they were satisfied they could produce a world-class product right on the Outer Banks.

As a first step. they found a perfect 65+-year-old brick building in the town of Manteo, reinforced the floor with concrete to bear the weight of four 1200-liter tanks and the 300-liter copper pot still from Arnold Holstein, a world-renowned manufacturer of distilling and brewing equipment. Beautiful in its industrial detailing, it looks for all the world like a giant copper oboe standing upright in a stainless steel tub.

The 300-liter copper pot still from Outer Banks Distilling looks like a giant copper oboe in a stainless steel tube.

The 300-liter German copper pot still at Outer Banks Distilling is a beautiful piece of equipment.

Formal studies and travels behind them, the foursome brought in their first barrels of molasses, thick and dark and oozing. They fired up that beautiful still. And then they made their first batch of Outer Banks Distilling Kill Devil Rum. In the short 2½ years since, they’ve racked up several international awards.

Outer Banks Distilling—Rum Strong Enough to “Kill the Devil”

The name of the rum they create actually has two sources. The first is the Kill Devil Hills, just north of Manteo. In earlier times, rum was made almost exclusively in the Caribbean, the source of the sugar cane that created its molasses base. After manufacture, more than a little of that rum was shipped north. Unfortunately, some of the ships didn’t make it to their destinations. Instead they were caught in the shallow shoals that line the North Carolina Outer Banks—often referred to as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” In those turgid, shallow waters, many foundered and sometimes broke up, and barrels of rum washed ashore…a fact the locals did not seem to mind at all. Delighted with their windfall of rum “strong enough to kill the devil,” locals fondly began calling the area the Kill Devil Hills. Three of the distillery’s four partners live in these beautiful sandy dunes.

The dunes of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been nicknamed “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” for the large number of ships
that have been wrecked on its rocky shoals, sometimes washing barrels of rum ashore.

The second name association is the rum itself, and it goes even further back. In 1650, rum from the Barbados was called “Kill Devil.” The owners liked the double meaning and its association with the location. Kill Devil Rum was born.

An Appropriate Motto at Outer Banks Distilling–”From Molasses to Glasses”

Good molasses is still at the heart of making good rum. Today the distillery gets most of its molasses from sugar-cane fields in Florida and Louisiana. “We just don’t grow sugar here in North Carolina,” Scott explains. Sometimes demerara sugar is also added. They use yeast from the island of Guadaloupe. For their specialized, small-batch rums, it’s the balance of molasses, demerara, and the type of barrel used for aging that tells the tale, affecting the flavor profile and highlighting the versatility of rum.

After it emerges from the huge copper pot still, that nose-widening, mouth-numbing spirit I tasted is blended and aged. One of the goals of the foursome of owners is to show the wide variety of styles of rum that can be produced. They turn out silver, gold, aged, and seasonal spiced rums. These varieties are aged in a range of barrels that affect the final flavors, including used Jim Beam bourbon barrels for their signature Gold Rum.

Outer Banks Distilling co-owner Scott Smith tastes the 180 proof pure spirit rum straight from the still.

Outer Banks Distilling co-owner Scott Smith tastes the 180 proof pure spirit rum straight from the still.

The distillery offers tours for guests over 21, by reservation, in their lovely, wood-lined tasting room. I found the tastings eye-opening. My favorite was the Kill Devil Pecan Rum with Honey. Creamy smooth, with a light honey-sweet finish, it seemed to kiss my tongue. It was inspired by the giant pecan trees surrounding the distillery. Both the pecans and the honey are locally sourced. A delightful by-product, the rum-soaked pecans are candied, packaged, and sold in the distillery.

We also tasted the their flagship rum, Kill Devil Gold. Its rich color and depth of flavor come solely from aging in those bourbon barrels. No flavors or colors are added. When Gold hits your tongue, there’s a sudden feeling of evaporation that leaves behind a hint of sugar and cream.

Kill Devil Silver is their example of rum in its purest form. The molasses comes through, lightly touched with notes of vanilla and créme brûlée. It’s an excellent rum for mixing into cocktails.

Pouring the samples at Outer Banks Distilling for a taste test.

Pouring the tastings. Tours and tastings are available by appointment.

Finally, the distilling foursome has fun a few times a year with their specialty rums. Once a year, they drop a new version in their “Shipwreck” series—another homage to their location. Twice a year, at the winter and summer solstices, they bring out their very popular Sol-Spice creations, which commonly sell out in hours, if not minutes. This year, their 2018 Summer Sol-Spice version was barrel-aged and then spiced with a Thai accent—with kaffir lime, lemongrass, and ginger. Last year’s Winter Sol-Spice Rum was aged in once-used apple brandy barrels and flavored with coffee, cocoa nibs, vanilla and cinnamon. Last year’s was made with two different kinds of orange peel, lemon peel, and coriander. Just imagine the luscious combinations still to come.

The ship's wheel from the wrecked schooner "Irma" hangs on the wall of the tasting room at Outer Banks Distilling.

In the distillery’s pretty tasting room, the ship’s wheel of the schooner Irma, which sank in waters nearby, adorns the bar.

As I admitted at the start of this post… I love cocktails made with rum. And so I asked the guys from Outer Banks Distilling if I could share a couple of their cocktail recipes from their website. And they said yes!

Salud! Prost! Cheers!

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada Cocktail from Outer Banks Distilling, Manteo, NC.

The Devil Wears Prada cocktail

2 oz Kill Devil Silver rum
½ oz cranberry juice
½ oz Grand Marnier
The juice of one lime wedge

Combine all ingredients into a shaker
tin with ice. Shake and strain into
a chilled cosmo glass and garnish with
an orange twist.


OBX Dreamsicle

An OBX Dreamsicle cocktail made with Kill Devil Gold Rum, garnished with a orange wedge.

Oh yum… An OBX Dreamsicle cocktail made with

Kill Devil Gold Rum.

2 oz Kill Devil Pecan Honey rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin
with ice. Shake and strain into a glass
over ice. Garnish with an orange wedge.


For more recipes and information about their rums, visit the Outer Banks Distilling website.

Distillery tours are available Tuesday thru Saturday at 1 & 3pm by reservation. Tours cost $10 at the time of writing, and you must be 21 years or older.

Outer Banks Distilling
510 Budleigh Street
Downtown Manteo, North Carolina

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A visit to Outer Banks  Distilling in Manteo, North CarolinaA visit to Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, NC

Australia Road Trip-An Epicurean Adventure from Adelaide

Grab some wheels and prime your taste buds, because this South Australia road trip will have your eyes widening in wonder and your mouth salivating at the gastronomic goodness surrounding you.

A wide-open view of the beautiful terraced vineyards you will see on a South Australia road trip.

In the South Australia wine country, the views of terraced, quilt-checked hills go on forever.

Away from the frenzy of the tourist-crowded east coast of Australia, is a laid-back and gorgeous spot that has not lit up the tourist maps of the world… yet. But I predict it soon will, because South Australia’s got it all. And most especially, it’s got what your mouth and your stomach are craving.The best way to taste all the goodness of South Australia is with your own wheels, so you can wander at your own pace, stopping wherever you get hungry or just crave a long gaze at the beautiful views. You can rent a car in Adelaide, but it’s better yet if you can get hold of a caravan or camper. These are also rentable, of course, but if you’re planning to cover more of this continent-sized island beyond South Australia, you might want to consider actually purchasing one, using it for your trip, then reselling it when you leave. You can find used campervans and trailers of all types on this gumtree website.. Also, this site lists many places to camp in South Australia.

So, let’s get you on the road for your South Australia road trip.

You will most likely fly into Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia. It’s a genial, casual city, with a laid-back vibe under a layer of hip sophistication. Once known as The City of Churches for its strong Lutheran roots, it now pulses with a more secular beat and an artsy underbelly. It was also named a UNESCO “City of Music” in 2015. Several world-renowned music festivals happen throughout the year, and there are live-music clubs and pubs on nearly every street.

Adelaide was my first glimpse of Australia, and I was basically blown away—by the food, the nearby milk-white beaches, proximity to the country’s best wine region…and the people. One of my favorite eye-openers about Australians was how unstuffy they are. I felt like someone had taken the best qualities of Americans and Brits, mixed them with sunshine and salt water, and given them a unique accent I sometimes had trouble understanding. And I never met one in my time there who was less than kind, helpful, and welcoming.

Beehive Corner in downtown Adeliade, South Australia, is home to Haigh's Chocolates, in a fanciful, neo-Gothic building with stripes and gables, spires and dentilated cornices.

Beehive Corner in central Adelaide houses the city’s best known chocolate shop, Haigh’s Chocolates. chocolate shop,

This is a compact city, easy to navigate. The central district is edged all around by parks and greenways and the Rundle Mall pedestrian shopping area. There’s no lack of things to do in Adelaide. You’re offered plentiful and lovely parks and gardens. Rundle Mall lures you into its 15 buildings and plazas full of things to empty your wallet. Take tea at one of the outdoor cafes and smile at the whimsical street sculptures, including some darling bronze pigs, rooting around a trash can. Also, South Australia is the opal-mining center of the country, so keep your eyes open for beautiful creations featuring the rainbow-hued stone.

A short ride away on a historic tram brings you to Glenelg Beach. Sun and sand, a jetty, a lighthouse—all the beachy things you want and need.

The white sands of Glenelg beach are just a short tram ride from downtown Adelaide, South Australia

Glenelg Beach is Adelaie’s city beach, just a short ride on a vintage tram from the city center.
Photo by eguidetravel on flickr–CC 2.0 license

To get a sense of Adelaide’s history and culture, take a stroll along North Terrace, the city’s cultural boulevard. That’s where you’ll find the city’s great cultural institutions and museums, the National Wine Centre, Parliament House, and the beautiful and serene Botanic Gardens.

The graceful South Australia Parliament building in the North Terrace district.

The South Australia state parliament building in Adelaide graces the Northern Terrace cultural district.


Where’s the Epicurean Part of this South Australia Road Trip?

But I promised you food, an “epicurean adventure,” and for that we need to head to Adelaide Central Market. It’ the oldest fresh produce market in Australia, and it was my flat-out favorite spot in town. What you get is 70-odd stalls of color, noise, smells, and outright deliciousness. Here you’ll find the freshest regional produce, artisan breads, cheeses, butchers featuring the likes of emu steaks and ground kangaroo, bright-eyed fish scarcely out of the sea. The stallholders have fought against any new-fangled glitzy facelifts and revel in the noisy, rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the place, a true taste of Old Adelaide.

After wandering around and drooling for a while, I bought 120 grams of amazing chicken pastrami, a small round of herbed chévre, one perfect crisp apple, and a small loaf of grainy artisan bread. It made the perfect picnic lunch. If you’d rather “eat in,” the place is loaded with multi-cultural cafes. Whether it’s pizza, paella, or piroshki you’re pining for, it’s waiting for you here.

The Central Court at Adelaide's Central Market features a Victorian-era glass-domed ceiling.

Adelaide’s Central Market is a landmark, a meeting place and a foodies’ heaven.


Into the Hills and Valleys

Adelaide can keep you happy, entertained, and well-fed for several days, but eventually, you’re going to want to get behind the wheel and head north on that promised south Australia road trip. You’re about to take your taste buds on an epic journey, up through what may be the most beautiful wine country in Australia. The road winds through the Adelaide Hills and into the Barossa Valley, where we’re going to find a staggering number of winery tasting rooms, or cellar doors, ready to enlarge your wine knowledge and delight your mouth as well.

The wine that built the reputation of the area is Shiraz, aka Syrah. It is a deep, dark red wine, full-bodied, even a bit heavy in the mouth. I’m no wine connoisseur, having grown up on college plonk. But it was here, in the Barossa Valley, that I had my first ever wine epiphany: “Oh, so this is what really extraordinary wine tastes like!” College plonk would never again serve.

But it’s not just about the tasting up here, as wonderful and varied as that may be. It’s also about the doing. There are many places in the region where you can have hands-on experiences of creating your own gourmet products. There are multiple opportunities to take cooking classes, blend your own gin, learn to make cheese. There is such an overflowing cornucopia of tastes, treasures and experiences, it’s impossible to cover them all. But here is a small taste of what you might want to sample as you meander west and north, traveling through some of the most beautiful rolling countryside this side of Burgundy.

Prepare for a beautiful, peaceful, and flavorful drive.

A mountain of green grapes,, the bounty of the Australia wine country.

The beauty and bounty of the South Australia wine country, a region built on grapes. Photo by Thomas Schaefer on Unsplash

The Adelaide Hills – First Stop on your South Australia Road Trip

A short 20-30 minutes east/southeast of the city takes you into the Adelaide Hills, where gold mining history meets rich agriculture soil, an age-old pioneering spirit and modern innovation. The region produces wonderful cool-climate wines, with dozens of wineries where you can stop for tastings.

Be sure to plan a stop in the village of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest German settlement. It began in 1839 when a group of German Lutherans, wanting to escape religious persecution by the King of Prussia, decided to immigrate to a safer place. It has managed to retain its colonial charm and is full to the brim with boutiques, galleries, bakeries, pubs and cafes. Walking the length of the main street, you’ll encounter antiques and toy shops, a puppet shop, a fairy garden shop, and a candle shop where you can make your own scented jar candles. For when hunger and thirst strike, there’s no dearth of ice cream, artisan cheeses, German pastries, and flights of craft beers. Plus, there are at least five winery tasting rooms right on the main street.

One fun Hahndorf experience is at Buzz Honey Hive Door, where they offer free tastings of various single-flower source honeys. Also, you can stand in a glass-walled observation hive and safely watch the bees at work. Just outside the village, if you stop at Beerenberg Farm from November to April (the Australian summer), you can pick your own sugar-sweet strawberries and lick the juice dribbling down your newly bright-red chin as you bite into them.

Finally, before moving on you must stop at the Hahndorf Hill winery, winner of multiple awards and “best of” namings, both for its wines and for its winery experience. A highlight of that experience is ChocoVino,, which matches Hahndorf Hill’s boutique wines to some of the world’s best chocolates for a pairing you won’t likely forget. Who knew wine and chocolate could be this good together? The experience is made even greater by the spectacular views of the winery and surrounding countryside from the glass-walled tasting room.

Wine and fine chocolate, perfectly paired at ChocoVine, Hahndorf Hills Winery,, in the Adelaide HIlls, South Australia.

Wine and chocolate, oh my! At ChocoVino at Hahndorf Hills Winery in the Adelaide Hills.


The Barossa, Where Wine is a Way of Life

In the rolling, verdant Barossa Valley, wine has been a way of life for more than 175 years. That history has built it into one of the world’s great wine regions. In this viticulture area are planted some of the oldest continuously producing vines in the world, some going back to the original cuttings brought from Europe in the 1840s. Add in a diversity of weather and soil conditions and you end with a wide variety of wine types and the unofficial designation as “Wine Capital of Australia.” (Since the weather can change from warm to quite cool from one side of the valley to the other, I suggest you take a wrap with you, even in summer. Something like my favorite travel shawl) is perfect.

One thing is certain. Where there is great wine, fine artisan food is sure to follow, as well as opportunities to watch it being made, grown, cooked, and brewed, and even take a hand at doing some of that yourself.

Driving north into the valley, you come to Lyndoch Lavender Farm, where you can stroll through the brilliant lavender landscape (hint: bring your camera!) They produce all sorts of lavender products, including soaps, essential oils, seeds, organza sachets, and sleep pillows. But for me the stars were the items that came from the farm kitchen. Lavender honey, mustard, chutneys and their classic lavender jelly, are all sold, with plenty of tastings to help you decide. At the Lavender Farm Café, you can get coffee or lavender tea, cheese platters, and lavender ice cream, lavender scones, lavender biscuits… you get the idea.

A beautiful field of lavender at sunset. Lyndoch Lavender Farm in the Adelaide Hills, on your South Australia road trip.

At Lyndoch Lavender Farm you can stroll through the lavender fields, buy products made with lavender, and eat gourmet treats flavored with lavender. Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash.

A pretty drive up the road a piece brings you to Tanunda. It was also settled by those fleeing German Lutherans and is still full of quirky architecture from the 19th century. It’s hemmed on all sides by vineyards. Look to the end of any street in town and there be grapes. Stop at the Barossa Wine and Visitor Centre on Murray Streets for maps and information.

The old Tanunda Railroad Station in the Barossa Valley of South Australia, it's quirky architecture influenced by the early German immigrants.

The old Tanunda Railroad Station is typical of the colonial buildings in town, influenced by the style brought by German immigrants. Photo by Chris Fithall on flickr–CC 2.0 license.

Right in Tanunda’s main street you’ll find Barossa Valley Brewing where you can try an IPA, an award-winning ale, some cider or their outrageously amazing Special Batch Chocolate Coffee Stout, a heavyweight brew flavored with Peruvian cocoa nibs and Barossa roasted coffee. Enjoy your drink on the paved terrace beneath giant gum trees. Or on chilly days, snuggle by a wood fire inside.

Back on the road, we wind through hazy valleys and vine-quilted hillsides, studded with giant eucalyptus trees. There are as many opportunities as you could hope for to stop along the way for wine tastings, photo ops, or just drinking in the beautiful rural views.

Soon we come to Nurioopta, the Valley’s largest town, also surrounded by vineyards. There are even grape vines growing on some of the buildings in town. Our next stop on this pilgrimage of degustation is Durand’s Gin School. It’s adjacent to the better-known Maggie Beers Farm (also worth a stop). We’re going to make ourselves some private-label gin. Working at your own Italian copper still, you’ll mix a base spirit with your choice of botanicals, with plenty of advice and instruction to help you get it right. Then, while your still heats up and does its magic act, you’ll sit down to a four-course lunch. Afterward, you’ll break your newly-minted spirit down with pure water, bottle and label it. Your own personal gin is now ready for you to take home.

Just up the road is Penfolds, one of the best-known Australian wineries in the world. And from blending gin we can go to blending wine. Put on a white vigneron’s lab coat and step into the Winemaker’s Laboratory for a 90-minute learning experience. Here you’ll be given three wines and lots of tips and guidance. You’ll blend, sniff and taste until you have exactly the blended wine that suits you best. You’ll go home with a bottle of your own wine, with your own label. What a great souvenir!

A bottle of your own blended wine, created by you in the wine labs at Penfolds winery.

At Penfolds winery, you can go home with your own private blend wine, blended by you in the wine labs.


Seppeltsfield Road and Estate

There’s one more unmissable stop before heading back to Adelaide to finish our South Australia road trip. And it’s a big one you need at least an entire day for, maybe more, depending on how much you like to taste wines. Get onto Seppeltsfield Road heading east. For the next 6 miles/10 km, you will pass through beautiful hills and valleys where old vines grow in the rich red soil of this part of the Barossa Valley. Along the road are at least 18 winery tasting rooms, plus a cider brewer and a distiller. The last part of the road is itself spectacular, a 3 mile/5km stretch lined on both sides with enormous Canary Island Date Palms, more than 2000 of them in total, planted during the Great Depression.

the long stretch of Seppeltfield Road, also called Palm Road, leading to Seppeltsfield Estate Winery. It's lined with 2000 old Canary Island Date Palms

The magnificent Palm Road approaching Penfolds is lined with 2000 Canary Island Date Palms that are more than 75 years old. Michale Dawes on flickr–CC 2.0 license

Besides the wineries, some of the best and most famous Barossa restaurants are located along Seppeltsfield Road. At Hentley Farms, the 1880s stables have been converted into an elegant and contemporary dining room where the focus is on locavore dining. Much of the produce comes from the farm itself. Many items are foraged from the wild around the estate or caught in the local waterways. The rest is sourced from small family farms nearby. There’s no set menu but rather a constantly changing surprise menu that depends entirely on what is fresh and good that day and what magic the chef decides to create with it. These dishes are paired with the estate’s own wines.

Finally, that spectacular Palm Drive brings you to Seppeltsfield Estate, 420 acres of ancient vineyard, lush gardens, and heritage architecture. You can set your own pace and wander at will, taking in the winery and the beautifully planted gardens, and sampling some of the complimentary tastings offered. Or you can join a tour. There are heritage tours of the buildings, a Segway tour of the grounds, and one that takes you through the famous Centennial Cellar. From this almost sacred spot, Seppeltsfield has issued a 100-year-old Tawny wine every year since 1978. You can even taste your birth year wine.

The beautiful gardens at Seppeltsfield Estate, in the Barossa Valley of South Australia, on a golden day in autumn.

The gardens at Seppeltsfield Estate are extensive and glorious.

JamFactory, located in the 1850s stables of the estate, is a hub for craftspeople and design artists. As they work in their studios, creating beauty and function in jewelry, knife-making, ceramics, millinery, glass and other fine crafts, you can watch them and even stop to chat. Then buy their beautiful creations in the retail shop.

Leather artists in a studio at JamFactory on the Seppeltsfield Estate, Barossa Valley, South Australia

At JamFactory, you can watch and interact with the artists and craftspeople in their studios.

Our South Australia road trip itinerary has barely scratched the surface of what is available in this beautiful part of the country. There is so much more I had no room to include. As you meander through Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, keep your eyes alert for serendipitous finds along the way, From cheese-making lessons to an Italian cooking class, from restaurants specializing in native “bush tucker” meals to places you can buy house-made mettwurst—there’s that German accent again—South Australia will reach out and hand it to you.

And a South Australia road trip, at a slow and meandering, sipping and swallowing pace, is the right way to experience it all.

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For a completely different Australian experience, check out my post on
things to do in Perth.

Bosche Bollen - a huge ball of the creamiest sweet cream encased in a layer of chocolate. A fabulous Dutch dessert.

Two Dozen of the Best European Desserts You Need to Try

Ahhh…. European desserts. Lives there a woman traveler who can resist them? Certainly not me. Because one of the great joys of traveling is… eating. And one of the great joys of eating is… dessert!

A plate of poffertjes in Amsterdam, slathered in butter and hidden under a thick coat of powdered sugar.

A whole lot of travel and food bloggers seem to be just like me—unable to resist desserts in Europe. So I asked some of them to share their favorites with us. Together, we’ve come up with a list of an even two dozen of the best European desserts you need to try on your next trip. Let’s begin with one of my own personal favorites.

Poffertjes in the Netherlands

Poffertjes come directly from the gods, I swear it. These little pockets of heaven are small, puffy buckwheat pancakes (seen in the photo above), baked in a special cast-iron pan with shallow spherical depressions. Once baked, they are slathered in butter and covered in large driftings of powdered sugar. When I first went to Amsterdam, more than 45 years ago, poffertjes were usually bought from special circus-style stands that set up around town at various holidays. Today, you can find them at the street markets, such as the Albert Cuyp Market, and in many cafes. I’ll eat them anywhere I find them, but one of my favorite poffertjes stops is Café De Prins at Prinsengracht 124. This really is one of my very favorite European desserts. You need to try them. Trust me on this.

Lebkuchen in Nuremberg, Germany

By Sage Scott from Everyday Wanderer

A plate of lebkuchen in Nuremberg, served as a traditional Christmas treat.

Lebkuchen is a traditional German Christmas treat. Although the word kuchen means cake in German, I would describe lebkuchen as the love child of a gingerbread man and a spice cake. These German sweet treats are baked on a thin, white, edible wafer called oblaten that always reminds me of a Communion wafer. As it turns out, that’s because the 13th Century German monks who invented lebkuchen in Nuremberg used larger, unconsecrated hosts to structure the cakes and keep the dough from sticking to the baking surface. The cake itself can range from sweet (also known as honigkuchen or honey cake) to spicy (also known as pfefferkuchen or pepper cake).

Typical lebkuchen ingredients include some combination of honey or molasses, spices (like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg), nuts (like almonds or hazelnuts), and candied fruit (like dried apricots or candied lemon peel). As a final step, lebkuchen is dipped in a glaze or dark chocolate. In the country that invented the Christmas tree and is the setting for the Nutcracker Ballet, no Christmas would be complete without soft, sweet, and spicy lebkuchen! They are available at every bakery and every Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) in Germany throughout the holiday season.

Follow Sage on Instagram

Skyr in Iceland

By Danielle Desir from The Thought Card

A cup of Skyr, a yoghurt-lilke snack or dessert available all over Iceland.

Skyr is one my favorite treats in Iceland. Pronounced “skee-er,” skyr is a dairy product that resembles yogurt but has a milder taste. It is one of Iceland’s oldest dairy products and has been around for nearly 1,000 years. Instead of having a sour and tart taste like yogurt, the cultures that make up skyr have a rich and creamy flavor. Skyr is also very good for your health. It contains more protein and less sugar than yogurt. In Iceland, you can find all sorts of flavors like peach cloudberry, strawberry, banana, apple, raspberry, coconut and more.

Trying skyr is one of the inexpensive things I recommend doing in Iceland on a budget. It costs around 200 ISK or $2+ USD. You can find Skyr at grocery stores, gas stations and even some restaurants.

Churros and Chocolate in Madrid

By Tom Bartel & Kristin Henning from Travel Past 50

A plate of churros and a cup of thick, dark hot chocolate makes a perfect Spanish breakfast.

For your morning coffee or chocolate and churros in Madrid, you must visit Chocolatería San Ginés in the center city. It’s just off Calle Arenal about halfway between the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza de Ópera. If you go at the typical breakfast time of mid-morning, you’ll stand in line for a few minutes to order at the cashier. You pay, get your ticket, and then wait a couple more minutes for a table to open up. The place has seating on two levels in the main shop, and another large room next door. The turnover is quick, so the wait is never long, but even if it were, it would be worth it.

Basically, there are four combinations that are the standard fare. You can either have coffee with milk or hot chocolate, and you can either have churros or porras, which are basically just bigger churros. Churros are the Spanish equivalent of donuts. They are fried dough, usually sprinkled with powdered sugar, although they are so delicious, you can certainly forego the sweet garnish. I do. However, the essence of the Spanish churro breakfast is not the churros. It’s the chocolate. This isn’t the thin gruel that Americans call cocoa or hot chocolate. This is a thick, dark, bitter chocolate that comes in a cup, but is really too thick to drink. It exists solely for dipping your churros. Enjoy.

Read more about Tom & Kristin’s take on Madrid with this Madrid mini guide.

Sebada in Sardinia

By Claudia Taviani from My Adventures Across the World.

A popular European dessert is Sebada in Sardinia. Served with honey.

One of the yummiest sweet treats in Sardina is the sebada (or seada), generally referred to in its plural form—sebadas or seadas. These are made by preparing a very plain dough which is then laid very thin and filled with a mild cheese (it can be Dolce Sardo, but it should traditionally be a sweet and fresh pecorino cheese) and grated lemon or orange rind. The pastry is then folded together carefully, and deep fried. It’s cooked until crispy and then served with honey. The end result is a sweet, salty and at the same time crispy and tangy dessert that makes any mouth water. A classic among European desserts.

Read more about Claudia’s favorite food destinations around the world.

Snow-White Cake in Bucharest, Romania

By Iulia-Alexandra Falcutescu of The Traveling Tulip

A plate of rich and creamy Romanian Snow White Cake, cut into small squares for serving.

When you visit Bucharest, one of the “must have” sweets is a typical Romanian cake called “Snow-White.” I know, it has a funny name, but it is so delicious, light and sweet, that you will immediately fall in love with it, just like the Prince did with the real Snow-White. This is my childhood’s cake. My grandma used to make it, as it is a favorite amongst children and adults alike. It is a layered cake, made from three thin sheets of cake with vanilla-lemon cream in between them. That fresh cream perfectly balances the sweetness of the pastry layers to create a fresh dessert.

Typically, this is not found in your average cake shop in the city, but look for the cake shops that sell “home-made” cakes. It’s a must for them to have it and for you to enjoy it! Better yet, find a Romanian grandma to make one for you. If you can’t manage that, you can always try Lulu’s Cake (located at Strada Bogdaniţa, Nr. 8-10, in Bucharest). It’s a cake shop that makes “home-made” cakes, and they are my favorite when it comes to bringing me back to my childhood.

Follow Iulia-Alexandra Twitter at @thetulipjul.

Gelato in Florence, Italy

By Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

Gelato in Florence comes in a wide variety of flavors, like these.

Florence, Italy, is considered the birthplace of not just the Renaissance but also my favorite sweet treat, gelato. Story has it that in 1565, Bernardo Buontalenti, the man in charge of setting up fabulous events for the Medicis, decided to chill pastry cream for a dessert offering at a banquet. And that’s how gelato made its debut! Without a doubt, Florence is home to some of the best gelaterias on the planet. But even in this land of plenty, there are standouts that you absolutely must not miss when you visit. Stop by Vivoli for unsurpassed renderings of classic flavors. Pay Gelateria dei Neri a visit for daring and contemporary flavor combinations. Stand in the inevitable line at La Carraia for gelato that oozes decadent richness. Visit Carapina for the most purist take on gelato artigianale. And why not stop by Perchè no! for its cute name and delicious gelato?

One of the tests for whether a gelateria is great is supposedly to see if it carries nocciola (hazelnut) gelato as a stand-alone flavor. Hazelnut is an expensive ingredient, and only top gelaterias offer real hazelnut on its own. Fior de latte, translating literally to flower of milk, is another test…if a shop can do a great sweet cream flavor, which contains nothing but milk and sugar, you can be confident its offerings will be delicious. Happy tasting, and happy gorging on gelato in Firenze! One of the best European desserts in one of the best cities!

Learn more about Dhara’s fave places to try gelato in Italy.

Kürtőskalács in Hungary

By Gábor Kovács from Surfing the Planet

Hollow tubes of the crisp pastry called kurtoskalacs, sold in Budapest, Hungary.

The Hungarian language is full of words that are very hard to pronounce, but one of these unpronounceable words, kürtőskalács, quickly becomes part of the vocabulary of those who visit Hungary. Kürtőskalács is a cake that comes originally from the Hungarian speaking part of Transylvania in Romania, but it is one of the favorites not only in Hungary, but also other places in the region. During your walk around Budapest, you will easily find a food stall that sells this beauty, and you will also find another version in Prague that is called trdelník.

Kürtőskalács is a spit cake (sometimes they translate it to chimney cake), prepared in a special oven where the dough is wrapped around a wooden spit. The cake is baked slowly over a wood fire and then is glazed in sugar. There are different versions with cinnamon, vanilla, or even walnut added to the sugary glaze. A new trend is to put ice cream in the middle, but that cools it down, and I think it’s much tastier when it’s warm.

Follow Gabor on Twitter at @surfingplanet

Brunsviger in Funen, Denmark

By Line Olesen from Nordic Travellers

Danish Brunsviger with its think, gooey topping of caramelized brown sugar.

Brunsviger is a Funen cake that will make your blood flow a little slower due to a butter and sugar overload, but boy is it good. The cake is a yeast dough covered in a sugary mass made out of butter and brown sugar. The icing has to be soft, smooth and without crunch; the sugar grains have to be melted. If you get a piece of brunsviger with a crunch, the baker didn’t do a good job. On Funen, it is customary to have the baker make a brunsviger shaped as a boy or girl and decorate it with candy for kids’ birthday parties. The name of the cake is derived from the German city Braunschweig, but other than that the connection is uncertain.

Although the cake is hugely popular on Funen, people from other parts of the country don’t really understand it. But if you have grown up with brunsviger, you will keep craving it for the rest of your life. I, the writer, was once forbidden to eat brunsviger in the car by my boyfriend because he was tired of putting his hands on a sticky and greasy steering wheel every time I had been to the bakery. Have I stopped? Only I and the car know.

You can follow Nordic Travellers on Facebook.

Sticky Toffee Pudding in England (one of the best European Desserts)

By Claire Sturzaker from Tales of a Backpacker

A rich, cake-like sticky toffee pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and sitting in a luscious pool of caramel sauce.

Sticky toffee pudding has always been one of my favourite English desserts. It is one of those desserts you can find in all kinds of restaurants, from pubs and chains, to high-class gourmet restaurants. The combination of gooey sponge pudding with a sweet toffee sauce and ice cream or custard is hard to beat, and the perfect way to finish any meal!

There is something incredibly satisfying about a warm, sweet sticky toffee pudding which never fails to put a smile on my face—British comfort food at its best. There is some contention about the best recipe of course, mainly whether to include dates in the sponge mixture. Personally, I prefer it without, but there is no right and wrong when it comes to a good dessert. Either way is delicious! The most recent sticky toffee pudding I had was in London, in a restaurant on the South Bank of the Thames, as part of a food tour. Even though I was already stuffed, I still found room for it, and am so glad I did!

Follow Claire on Twitter at @clairesturz

Cranachan in Scotland

By Kirstin McEwan from The Tinberry Travels

I pretty glass full of cranachan, with layers of goodness.

Cranachan is a traditional dessert well worth a try if you find yourself in Scotland. A classic after-dinner accompaniment, a cranachan (occasionally spelled crannachan and pronounced kran-nuh-kun) encompasses a whole host of local produce that make it a quintessentially Scottish pudding. The layered dessert was originally made at the end of summer to celebrate the harvest but is now served at any time of year. It contains layers of toasted oats, cream, honey, fresh Scottish raspberries, and of course a little dash of whisky!

You’ll find this on most Scottish restaurant menus and it is certainly a staple at many occasions such as a Burns Night or at a Hogmanay meal. We even had it at our wedding! There’s also plenty of variations on the standard recipe, but you’ll usually have a tall glass with layers of each ingredient. It should be made with fresh raspberries, local honey, and should be light and sweet rather than heavy, but don’t be surprised if it has a kick as some places can be a little liberal with the whisky!

Follow Kirstin on Instagram.

Hungarian Dobos Torte in Budapest, Hungary

By Eric and Lisa from Penguin and Pia

This multi-layered slice of Dobos Torte shows the hardened caramel topping that seals it and keeps it fresh.

Exploring the Hungarian capital city and looking for something sweet to eat? If this is you, then trying a slice of Dobos Torte in Budapest is the answer to your cravings! This classic cake contains 7 spongy layers with chocolate buttercream icing in between each of them. The top decoration is where Dobos gets its signature look: a hardened, shiny caramel layer is waiting for you to break through when you enjoy a slice.

The cake itself was created by József Dobos. a Hungarian pastry chef. in the late 1800s. As the legend goes, József was a creative baker who was tired of his creations going stale shortly after baking them. His solution? Create a dessert where all the exposed cake was covered up! He whipped together (pun intended) a chocolate buttercream icing and covered all the layers and the exterior edges of the cake. Finally, he drizzled and spread the caramel until it hardened on the top. This combination sealed the cake inside, keeping it moist and fresh. From that experiment, Dobos Torte was born! Whatever you have planned for your time in Budapest,, there are lots of confectionery shops around the city that serve a great slice of Dobos. We’d recommend Café Gerbeaud for an authentic Hungarian experience.

Berliners in Lucerne, Switzerland and Germany

By Halef and Michael, The Round the World Guys

A plateful of Berliners, the popular donuts filled with jelly , marmelade, or cream, one of the most common European desserts in the German areas.

The world was introduced to the complicated German Berliner dessert in 1963. That year, John F. Kennedy made a famous (and what some considered to be erroneous) speech. “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Urban legend has it that he stated, “I am a jelly donut!” That’s because the Berliner is a popular pastry you can get in any German region. It is a sweet dough, fried in oil to create a donut. Instead of a hole in the middle, the Berliner is typically filled with marmalade or jam. You can also find Berliners with chocolate or custard fillings. Obviously, there are many versions of the Berliner, including with powdered sugar toppings or icing.

In parts of Germany, including in Berlin, the Berliner pastry is more commonly known as Pfannkuchen – literally “pancake.” In Switzerland, however, you’ll find the true and classic Berliner, filled with jelly (hence the jelly donut). I had my first Berliner in Lucerne, Switzerland. Because Lucerne is quite culturally German, you can find many pastry shops and cafes which have their own Berliner specialties.

Follow the Round the World Guys on Facebook at Facebook.

Pastel de Nata in Lisbon, Portugal

By James from Portugalist

A pastel de nata, or Portuguese custard tart, with its flaky, layered crust and egg custard filling.

Portugal’s best and most well-known pastry is the pastel de nata (often called a Portuguese custard tart). Made from layers of filo pastry and egg custard, this sweet may be simple in its ingredients, but its flavors are complex. It’s best enjoyed with a small black espresso (called a “bica” in Lisbon) outside a small cafe, as you sit and watch the world go by. You’ll find pastel de nata in just about every cafe in Portugal, but the best ones come from the city where the recipe originates: Lisbon.

Pastéis de Belém is credited with the original nata recipe, and it’s definitely worth making a special journey to this pastelaria. Recently, however, a number of newcomers have sprung up and many have even won the coveted annual “melhor pastel de nata” award. Which is the best? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to work your way through the entire city.

Read James’ take on pastel de nata.

Also, read about my own NomadWomen love affair with Pasteis de Belem when I was in Lisbon.

Strudel in Italy (and other places)

By Margherita Ragg from The Crowded Planet

Strudel is one of the European desserts you can find in Italy, Germany, Austria and other places.

One of my favorite sweets ever is strudel, a roll of pastry cut into slices and served with whipped cream, custard, or ice cream. It’s found all over the Alps. You can also find strudel filled with ricotta cheese, forest fruits, or other types of fruit; but the best and most common filling is definitely apples and cinnamon.

I love to eat strudel after hiking because I found it satisfies my cravings for carbs and sugar without feeling too heavy on the stomach, like many other types of sweets and cakes. Recently I went on a three-day hike around the Brenta Dolomites, staying in mountain huts, and while everyone was having beer or radler at the end of the day, I was happily munching away on a huge slice of strudel! The best strudel I’ve ever had was at Rifugio Alimonta in the Brenta Dolomites, but I think the fact I had it after hiking for seven hours is part of the reason why I found it so delicious!

Bosche Bollen in Den Boscch, Netherlands

By Karen Turner from WanderlustingK

Bossche Bollen - a huge ball of the creamiest sweet cream encased in a layer of chocolate. A fabulous Dutch dessert.

Bossche Bollen are the traditional sweets from Den Bosch, the Netherlands. ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) is a beautiful city in Brabant about one hour from Amsterdam with a rich culture. Their own delicious pastry is one you’ll want to try, especially if you love chocolate and cream. This Dutch sweet is made with cream and melted chocolate in a giant ball.

When visiting ‘s-Hertogenbosch, you can find these delicious specialties all over the city, although the most famous come from a bakery close to the central train station, Banketbakkerij Jan de Groot. Most of the cafes around town will serve fresh Bossche Bollen, so don’t worry about finding them within the city. Even outside of Den Bosch, you can find them at some bakeries around the Netherlands. I recommend sharing one with a friend and saving plenty of room for later as they’re quite filling.

Learn Karen’s advice on how to spend a day in Den Bosch.

Rote Grütze in Northern Germany

By Cate Brubaker from International Desserts Blog

Servings of very berry Rote Grutze, topped with whipped cream and a chocolate garnish--a traditional German dessert

One of my all-time favorite European sweet treats is Rote Grütze, a delicious traditional summer dessert from northern Germany. If you like berries, you’ll love Rote Grütze! It’s basically a compote made from simmering blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and red currants in red fruit juice and a bit of sugar. When I was served Rote Grütze at a friend’s house, it was typically served warm with a small pitcher of cold, fresh cream to pour over the top. SO good! However, if you order it in a cafe or restaurant, they’ll probably serve it cold or at room temperature and topped with vanilla sauce, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Don’t worry, no matter how it’s served, it’ll be amazing! Rote Grütze is super easy to make from scratch, but if you’re in Germany (especially northern Germany) you’ll find a jar of it in any grocery store. Rote Grütze: the perfect local sweet treat to enjoy in your AirBnB!

Check out Cate’s recommendations for things to do in Hamburg, Germany.

Trdelnik in Prague, Czech Republic

By Kris from Nomad by Trade

Trdelnik, cooking on a hot rod over the grill, is one of best desserts in Europe, found on the streets of Prague.

I love trying new foods when I travel, especially when they’re sweet, and I fell in love with trdelnik in Prague during my first visit there. Trdelnik are pastries made by wrapping dough around a spit and then roasting it over a grill. Once cooked, they’re coated in sugar and nuts. Nowadays you can even get them filled with chocolate, pie filling, and whipped cream. My favorite version has melted white chocolate drizzled all over the inside.

Watching them being made is almost as fun as eating them. They’re a great snack to eat while walking around Prague’s historic streets, though if you want to minimize the mess while you explore, opt for one of the simpler flavors, because the fancy ones full of creamy fillings can definitely get messy. You can find variants all over central Europe, but they’re absolutely everywhere in Prague. Don’t miss out on a chance to sample these tasty treats during your visit.

You can follow Kris on Twitter at @nomadbytrade13

Schwärzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)

By Erin from Erin at Large

A slice of Black Forest Cake includes layers of chocolate cake, buttercream, and tart cherries laced with Kirschwasser.

Black Forest Cake is indeed from the Black Forest region of Germany, but there is debate about in which town it originated. Some of the first published recipes for the cake date from the late 1920s. You can see one of these recipes at the Black Forest Open-Air Museum, in the town of Gutach. You can have a large slice of the cake in their lovely restaurant as well.

The Black forest region is famous for its cherry trees, so much so that the women’s traditional local costume includes a hat with giant red pom-poms on top, resembling cherries. It’s no wonder the cherries and Kirschwasser (cherry liqueur) made their way into the famous dessert. A proper Black Forest cake layers light chocolate cake with whipped cream or buttercream, with one layer of sour cherries and Kirschwasser. It’s then topped with buttercream dotted with chocolate swirls.

Read about Erin’s trip to the Black Forest Open Air Museum.

Lokum, aka Bulgarian Delight, in Bulgaria

By Sarah Carter from ASocialNomad

Squares of Bulgarian Delight are coated with powdered sugar for eating.

Bulgaria has been conquered and ruled by many over the centuries, so there’s little wonder that her rulers left their culinary influences on the country. Lokum/Bulgarian Delight may be presumed to have arrived with the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Bulgaria from late 14th century to 1878, but it also could have arrived earlier, as Middle Eastern cuisine features heavily in Bulgarian food. Bulgarian Delight is, like its Turkish neighbour, made of a gel of starch and sugar. The primary Bulgarian Delight flavour is rose—for which Bulgaria his famous. Bulgarian Delight is eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar. You’ll find boxes available in tourist stores and be able to spend your last Leva on it at the Airport.

As in Turkey, Bulgarian Delight is known as lokum, and in the Bulgarian alphabet is written as “локум.” The sweet is served at room temperature and often given as gifts.

Learn more from Sarah’s guide to Bulgarian food.

Scones in England

By Liliane Fawzy from My Toronto, My World

Scones with jam and clotted cream--the traditional Afternoon tea in London

Now when you think of British desserts, I’m sure a couple of them come to mind. But the one that typically instantly comes to mind? Scones! If you for some reason happen to not know what scones are, they’re a baked good made of wheat or oatmeal and baked in the oven. There are many varieties of the scone. Some scones come flavored with things like lemon. Some contain fruits like berries or raisins mixed into the dough. While there are savory versions (total sacrilege in my opinion), scones are usually sweet and best eaten with jams and/or clotted cream.

The actual best way to take in a scone is with an afternoon tea. Afternoon teas typically serve you scones with an assortment of jam flavors in addition to clotted cream. It’s a great way to try scones for the first (or tenth) time as you get to try a couple of different flavors. Plus you get to drink tea and dress up!

Read about a unique way to take tea—with scones—in London, on a double-decker bus!

Kaiserschmarrn in Austria

By Linda de Beer from Travel Tyrol

Kaiserschmarn are shredded sweet pancakes covered with powdered sugar and served with fruit compote.

Traveling to Austria and not trying Kaiserschmarrn, the favorite dessert of Emperor Francis Joseph, would be like going to Paris and not having crêpes. Kaiserschmarrn is a thick, fluffy shredded pancake dusted with icing sugar and traditionally served with raisins and fruit compote. It’s so filling that many Austrians even have it as their main meal. There are different stories as to how Kaiserschmarrn was named after the emperor. A favorite is that it was prepared by a nervous farmer who served it up after Francis Joseph and his wife unexpectedly stopped by for lunch.

The secret to making the perfect Kaiserschmarrn is in preparing and frying the batter just right. To ensure the thick and fluffy texture, many eggs are used with the whites beaten stiff before gently stirring it into the rest of the batter. Generous helpings of the batter are then fried in real butter while “shredding” it into pieces with a fork. Not everyone likes raisins in their Kaiserschmarrn, so there’s often an option to have it without. The most popular kinds of fruit compote to accompany the pancakes are plum and apple. A traditional Austrian restaurant without Kaiserscmarrn on the menu is just as unusual as one without Wiener Schnitzel!

Follow Linda on Facebook.

Cannoli in Sicily, Italy

By Steph Edwards from The Mediterranean Traveller

Cannoli, filled with sweetened ricotta with chocolate chips and disted with powdered sugar--a delicious Sicilian dessert

The sweltering Sicilian capital of Palermo is a paradise for foodies with a sweet tooth. Sicilians love their sugar, and its capital city is the spiritual homeland of one of the island’s most famous exports: cannoli. These iconic, deep-fried tubes of pastry adorn the windows of bakeries and patisseries around the island. The tasty tubes are filled with a sweetened sheep’s milk ricotta and topped with a variety of crunchy chunky things. The most common is chopped chocolate chips with candied peel or a glacé cherry.

Although you can now find cannoli (the word is plural) around the world, the freshness of the ricotta in Sicily ensures these will be the best you’ll ever taste. Fresh quality produce is a serious business on this island. Rumor has it that the best cannoli is to be found in the twin villages of Piana degli Albanesi and Santa Cristina di Gela, just south of Palermo. Cannoli is just the beginning of Sicilian sweets and desserts though; don’t miss a helping of gelato wedged into a brioche bun for breakfast (yes!), or its famous sponge cake cassata with its neon colors, or the utterly divine setteveli chocolate hazelnut tart. They are all exquisite european desserts.

Follow Steph on Facebook.

Kremna Rezina in Slovenia

By Kay from Jetfarer

A view of Lake Bled, in Slovenia, the perfect backdrop when eating a Kremna Rezina cream cake.

Many people flock to Lake Bled for its spectacular views and historic marvels, but fewer people know about its best-kept secret: kremna rezina or kremsnita, a traditional Slovenian cream cake. Among one of the best things to do in Lake Bled, trying a slice of this cake is a must for visitors to the region. Between layers of fluffy, soft cake is some of the most delicious and drool-worthy sweet cream in the world. Whether you’re trying to satisfy a sweet tooth craving after dinner, or as a reward after a taxing hike in Triglav National Park, kremsnita is definitely a treat you can’t pass up if you’re visiting the area.

Several cafes in the town of Bled serve kremsnita, but the original and best variant is at the Park Hotel. Here, you can order a slice of cake with a coffee or tea and admire the amazing views of Lake Bled from the hotel terrace.

So….what’ll it be? What will be the first of the many delicious European desserts you’ll try on your trip around the continent? Calories? What are those? You’re a Nomad Woman, an adventurer. It’s your duty to try everything, taste everything. And you know, really, calories don’t count when you’re traveling.

What are your all-time favorite desserts in europe. Let us know in the comments.


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Pin with sticky toffee pudding - two dozen Best European DessertsPin with Rote Grutze from Northern German - 24 of the Best European Desserts you need to try.

A look into the capsule/pod area at Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, showing the two levels of pods anda the steps to ge to the upper-level pods.

Pod Sleeping: Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, Mexico City Airport

At Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, at Mexico City’s Juarez Airport, you can sleep in a capsule, or pod. It’s private, clean, secure… and cheap.

UPDATED in January 2020.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you click on the link for a product or service I recommend here, and make a purchase from that link, I will get a small commission on that sale, which costs you nothing extra. And I thank you for it

The Birth of the Pod Hotel

Once upon a time (let’s call it 1979), in a land far away (let’s call it Japan), the Starship Enterprise and an old Pullman train car met, fell in love and reproduced. They called their offspring a Pod Hotel. And you should probably sleep in one at least once in your life.

Pod Hotel? Those of you old enough, like me, to remember the original 1956 movie “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” with Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, might have a negative reaction to the word “Pods…!!” So OK, let’s call them capsules. Better? Good.

Then the next time you have a flight to/from Mexico City, or a longish layover that makes you yearn for a nap and a shower, you might want to consider Izzzleep Capsule Hotel (website in Spanish only). The concept of “Intellient Hospitality” can be a great option for a few hours or overnight at a very reasonable price.

Why You Might Want to Consider Sleeping in a Capsule Bed at the Airport

This is a compare and contrast exercise. Think about all the times you’ve had a long layover between flights or had a flight delayed for several hours so you tried to sleep in a chair at your airport gate. Recall the crick in the neck and the pain in the butt that game provided. Or worse, remember that time you slept on the floor, with the eau de spilled coffee permeating the carpet, all the while freezing your tuche because the airport was fridge-like.

Or how about this? You’ve got a 6am flight out. You, like me, live nearly four hours from the airport, which means leaving home at midnight and arriving for your flight sleepy, grumpy, dopey, and possibly sneezy too. It’s mighty nice indeed to be able to head to your pod hotel, climb into your capsule bed, wake up to a shower and be a five-minute walk from the check-in desk. That, I found, was worth a lot.

As of 2019, there are two Izzzleep locations in the Mexico City Benito Juarez Airport, one in Terminal One, and a newer, slightly larger one in Terminal Two. I stayed in the Izzzleep pod hotel rooms in Terminal One, the International Terminal, so that’s the one reviewed here. I have learned that the bathroom/shower spaces in Terminal Two are slightly larger and there are more capsule beds. Otherwise the two are identical.

A look into the capsule/pod area at Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, showing the two levels of pods and the steps to ge to the upper-level pods.

The capsule area at Izzzleep. This photo, by Izzzleep Hotel, shows the two levels of sleeping berths and the steps to the upper ones. It was obviously taken with the lights on. But the capsule area is actually kept quite dark, with only low-level blue lighting. Suggestion: Take a flashlight in with you.

Of course there are pros and cons to sleeping in a capsule. Let’s get the cons out of the way up front.

The Cons of Staying at Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, Mexico City Airport

  • The individual capsules are small, so this is probably not a great option if you are very large or severely claustrophobic. We’re not talking MRI tube small. There’s plenty of room to move around, sit up in bed. My capsule at Izzzleep measured approximately 6 1/2 x 4’ (2+x1.25 meters).
  • The capsules accommodate only one person. If you’re traveling as a couple, you’ll have to book two, which wipes out a lot of the savings if you’re staying overnight. They can still be a great option for a nap and a shower though.
  • The locker and sink area is communal. You won’t be changing clothes there, or showering, but you will be washing, brushing your teeth, doing make-up, taking off your shoes, etc. in a co-ed locker room area. In this way, it feels a lot like staying in a hostel.
  • It can be more than a little difficult to dress and undress inside the pod, especially for older women who may be, shall we say, not quite as agile as we used to be. Since you can’t stand up, taking your pants off is especially tricky. And you will need to put them back on again to go out to the bathroom.
  • You won’t have your luggage in the pod with you. I did have my daypack in there, with my computer, hairbrush, etc. It sat on the foot of the bed by my feet. I also could have hung it on a hook.

That list may sound daunting, but don’t let it put you off until you read more. The pros of staying at Izzzleep might convince you to try it.

The Pros of Sleeping at Izzzleep Pod Hotel

  • Convenience and Stress-Free Travel – As I mentioned, being able to sleep in comfort just steps from the airport check-in desk is priceless. No looking for a cab to take you to the nearest off-airport hotel. No schlepping your bags from here to the back of beyond. You’re right where you need to be. And no constant clock watching, fearing a traffic delay will keep you from getting to the airport on time. Flying is stressful enough these, days. No need to make it worse than it needs to be.
  • Price – I spent a pretty comfortable night in my capsule, watched a telenovela on the overhead TV, had a good hot shower, and caught my morning flight for just US$40, almost exactly one-third of what the night would have cost me right next door in the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
  • Location – The Izzzsleep located in Terminal One, the international terminal, is the one I stayed in and also the one my readers are most likely to be using. It’s located on the outside of the security check line, so it’s usable even if your flight leaves from Terminal Two. Just hop on the airport shuttle to get there. If, like me, you arrive at the airport on a long-distance bus from another part of Mexico, it’s dead convenient, only a few steps from where you get off the bus, to the left past the bus ticket counters. It is also just off the international parking lot. If you enter Terminal One from the front of the airport, it’s also not hard to find. Just look for the food court, walk all the way through it, and you will find Izzzleep on the left.
  • HINT: If you need to ask for directions, ask an airport employee for the “Hotel de Capsulas.” Or look for signs for the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, which is right next door.
  • That food court is also convenient for when hunger strikes, with more than two dozen fast-food places with the usual burgers, sandwiches, pizza, plus Chinese and Japanese food, coffee-and-pastry outlets, and of course tacos and other Mexican specialties. There are also at least five full-service sit-down restaurants.
  • There is fast free WiFi throughout Izzzleep.
  • The capsule area is a strict quiet zone. Even shoes are not allowed in that zone. If you want to watch TV or listen to music, you will definitely need to use headphones. If you want to talk on your phone, you are told to go out into the communal area out of consideration for your fellow guests, who are only a molded plastic/fiberglass panel away. If you are a very light sleeper, you may hear footsteps or people opening and closing their capsules. For that reason, you’re provided with ear plugs at check in. Since I personally am deaf as a post without my hearing aids in, I had no problem at all with noise. Your mileage may vary.

Make your Izzzleep reservation on Trip Advisor.

Everything Else You Need to Know About Staying in an Izzzleep Capsule Hotel Pod

At check-in at Izzzleep, you’ll be given an electronic key card and a cozy pair of thick socks. In the locker area, you take your shoes off and change into these socks, which you can take with you as a nice souvenir. I wore mine the next day on the plane.

While you’re still at the check-in desk, ask them to show you the ins and outs of the control panel you’ll find in your pod. I didn’t do that, and I ended up fiddling through more trial-and-error testing of lights, TV, etc. than was necessary

The brightly lighted locker area at Izzzleep has two levels of lockers, one for each sleeping capsule.

Each sleeping capsule at Izzzleep has its own locker, which is opened with your key card. Inside you’ll find a blanket, a towel, a small bottle of water, a hanger, earplugs and room for a suitcase and your shoes.

The locker you open with your key card is not huge. It easily accommodated my carry-on and looked like it would also work for a larger, checked suitcase, but not both. However, you may leave any bags that don’t fit in the locker at the reception desk

In the capsule hotel, the area where the sleeping capsules are located is quite dark, lit only by eerie blue lights that allow you barely to see the number of your berth. I suggest you have your cell phone handy with a flashlight app at the ready. The sleeping pods, like Pullman berths, are arranged in two levels. To enter a lower berth, you need to get onto the floor and crawl in. For the upper berths, there are a few steps you climb up into your pod. Going in head first seems the easiest option.

Cozy in my Izzzleep capsule, showing the control panel, safe, and large mirror.

Cozy in my Izzzleep capsule, showing the control panel, safe, and large mirror.

Once you’re inside your individual capsule, you’ll still want that flashlight to locate your control panel, below the large mirror. You can’t turn the lights on until you “energize the capsule” by inserting your key card into a slot on that panel. Slide in your card, then touch the button on the right side for the mirror light. This will light up the whole pod with white light. If you touch the button for the ceiling light, you will instead get a low, very blue fluorescent light, which might work well for those who like to sleep with a light on.

The control panel also has one three-prong electrical outlet, two USB outlets, and two headphone jacks, an emergency call button, a small combination safe, and a button to lock and unlock the door to your pod. There is a ventilation control knob and a clock. Finally, there is a large button that turns off all the lights in your capsule at once.

What Else is Inside the Sleeping Capsule of Your Pod Hotel?

On the wall of the capsule are two hooks for hanging items, plus a small fire extinguisher. As you sit up in bed, there are also two reading lights directly over your head with a touch panel to operate them. The TV is situated overhead. You pull it down and operate it with the remote given to you at check-in.

Sitting up in bed, the TV is above and in front of. Here, I have my tray table in place on the bed.

The TV is above in front of you as you sit up in bed. (Shhh… you’re not supposed to have any food or drink in your pod except for water. Please don’t tell them I had a Starbucks latte and a cookie in there.)

There’s a foldable table/desk/tray hanging on one wall. I found it pretty easy to work using this clever contraption. You take it down from the wall, flip down the legs, and set it on the bed. It looks for all the world like one of those things people use to bring you breakfast-in-bed…should you be so lucky as to have one of those folks in your life (I unfortunately do not.) I imagined Jean Harlowe on satin sheets, a crepe de chine negligee falling just so from her shoulders, struggling to sit up against her fourteen satin pillows while a servant set her breakfast tray in front of her and threw open the curtains to let in the late morning sun. My situation was a bit less glamorous, but it got the job done. I was able to sit up on my bed, arrange my laptop and a notebook and type these notes.

The desk/table removed from the wall and unfolded to act as a bed tray, ready for working.

The desk/table/tray comes down from the wall and unfolds for working. (Oops, there’s that latte and cookie again…)

The “bedding” is not exactly luxurious, but it is serviceable. The sheet is one of those fitted things made of some unnatural cross between fabric and paper, sort of a felted non-woven surface. It’s not scratchy and some might find it comforting to be sleeping on a disposable sheet that’s never been slept on before.

There is no blanket in the pod. You’ll find a blanket, as well as a bottle of water, in the locker where you leave your suitcase. Don’t forget to bring it into the capsule with you (ask me how I know this.) The blanket is thinnish and a bit small. The capsules have AC and ventilation but no heat. If you like to sleep warm or if you are quite tall, just ask for an extra blanket at Reception. They will be happy to hand you one.

HINT: Bring an extra bottle of water with you into your capsule. The one they give you is small and you don’t want to drink the tap water anywhere in Mexico. You also don’t want to have to go out to the food court area at 2 am in hopes of finding more.

Where and How Do I Use the Bathroom in a Capsule Hostel?

Individual toilets and shower rooms are located just outside the pod area at Izzzleep Hotel.

There are individual toilet and shower rooms right outside the capsule area. They were both spotlessly clean and the water was hot.

The toilet rooms and individual shower rooms are located right outside the darkened capsule area of the Izzzleep pod hotel. I thought they were fine. Everything was sparkling clean and there was plenty of hot water. The rain shower head was an added bonus. The sinks and mirrors are communal, located in the locker area. They were also very clean.

Note: Because of the noise factor, there are no hair dryers provided in the bathroom and you may not use your own.

The row of modern sinks and mirrors is used communally and is co-ed.

The sink area is communal. In this way, it feels a lot like you are in a hostel. (Photo by Izzzleep Capsule Hotel.)

So, what’s the bottom line on this spaceship/pullman/hostel hybrid called a pod hotel or a capsule hotel? Based on my single experience with Izzzleep, I’ll be back. I am small (just 5’ tall) and have never suffered from claustrophobia, so I had no issues at all with the size of the pod. It’s an inexpensive and convenient overnight option if you arrive in Mexico City very late or have an early flight out. I would also certainly use it if I had a long layover and was exhausted. The thought of a nap on a bed and a hot shower sure beats trying to get comfortable in a chair at the gate. I also think it would be a wonderful option if I arrived from a long flight and had to go directly to a meeting or important gathering. A chance to shower, change and freshen up would make me say “Ahhh…”

For the money, I think this is a no brainer. I can have some genuine fun with the money I can save staying at Izzzleep instead of the Marriott next door.

Izzzleep Capsule Hotel at Juarez Airport, Mexico City: My final opinion. Give it a try. You might like it!


Fast Facts: Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, Mexico City Airport

  • Overnight prices are approximately US$40 (depending on exchange rate). You can also book for day use at US$9 per hour, with a two hour minimum. If you just want a shower to refresh, it’s $8. All prices include taxes.
  • Reception is open 24/7
  • There are no double capsule beds. All pods are single only
  • No children under 12 are allowed. Children 12-18 must be accompanied by an adult. Each child must stay in their own capsule bed.
  • The hotel is a No Smoking space. The airport smoking area is about 10 meters from the front door.
  • Due to the nature of the capsules, Izzzleep pods are NOT handicap accessible.
  • You can get to Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City by taxi, bus, Uber, or Metro. You can also get a long-distance super-comfortable bus from almost anywhere in Mexico direct to the airport.

Make your Izzzleep reservation on Trip Advisor

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The iconic bell tower in Perth, Australia

A Fistful of Cool Things to Do in Perth, Australia

There’s no dearth of cool things to do in Perth, the capital of Western Australia. And many of the most fun things to do in Perth can appeal to older women travelers, no matter your age or degree of comfort with “adventure.”

Perth, Australia—locals call it “The Pretty City.” And with good reason. This west coast city of 2+ million people has a special blend of nature and urban cityscape that can capture both the eye and the heart. With its modern architecture, its plethora of green spaces, and surrounded by some 25 miles (40 km) of soft-sand beaches and the glassy water of the Indian Ocean, it is beautiful for the eye and the lifestyle. And the fact that it has more sunny days per year than any other capital city in Australia doesn’t hurt. The best Perth points of interest will keep you outside a lot of the time.

Perfectly situated where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean, Perth offers a laid-back lifestyle with a cosmopolitan accent. With such a diverse landscape and cityscape, there’s a long list of intriguing, adventurous and downright fun things to do in Perth. (To find out what’s on in Perth today, visit the Perth city Tourism website. And for a great way to save money here, check out the best offers on things to do in Perth at Groupon.

Let’s take a closer look.

A Twilight view of the skyling of Perth, Australia shows one reason it's called The Pretty City.

There’s a reason Perth, Australia is called “The Pretty City.” From skyline to greenways, river to Indian Ocean,
it’s a delight for both the eye and the lifestyle.

Step Up and Look Out

One of your first things to do in Perth is to look at it from a vantage point that will help you get your bearings. I always like getting to some high point in a new city for an overview. In Perth, the best view of The Pretty City, night or day, is from the Fraser Avenue Lookout. You can see how the Swan River snakes through the city, a watery anchor for everything else. You can also see the Narrows Bridge spanning the river.

A view of Perth showing downtown, the Swan  river and the Narrows bridge.

Perth, Australia, offers so many lovely views. Get high up to see it at its best.

And then there’s this… because Tree Tops! Head to the Lotterywest Federation Walkway along the boundaries of Kings Park. The glass-and-steel arched bridge of the walkway begins near the massive Boab Tree, a 750-year-old giant transplanted here from the Kimberley area, nearly 2000 miles (3200 km) away. In a stroll of about 40 minutes, it takes you among the canopy of eucalyptus trees and gives spectacular skyline views of the city. You’ll see the Swan and Canning Rivers, get a sense of the diverse Western Australia flora, and be treated to aboriginal art along the way. One of the most fascinating and fun places to go in Perth, the walkway is open daily from 9-5, is free and is wheelchair accessible.

The glass-and-steel arched walkway traversing the tops of the eucalayptus trees in Perth's Kings Park.

The glass-and-steel Lotterywest Federation Walkway in Kings Park lets you walk among the treetops.
It’s one of the best experiences in Perth.

Eat it Up—One of the Most Delicious Things to do in Perth!

A Cloud Gelato treat in a huge cone, enough to fill you to the brim.

Cloud Gelato–a waffle cone that’s crispy out, soft inside and filled with deliciousness.

Perth’s food scene has exploded in recent years, and you’ll find anything you’re hungering for. From high-end, chef-centric restaurants to the diverse farm stands at Twilight Hawkers Market, from a classic high tea with bubbly at Bistro 10481 to pigging out at Margaret River Chocolate Company (free chocolate tastings!), Perth’s got it. Judging by its diverse food scene, Perth is a truly cosmopolitan place. And thanks to the sunny climate (remember, it has more sunny days than any other capital city in Australia), it has a high concentration of rooftop bars and dozens of opportunities for al fresco dining.

On one of those sunny days, you should definitely hit Cloud Gelato in Hay Street to gorge on one of their signature “cloud waffle” cones, crispy outside, fluffy inside, and filled with premium gelato and enough toppings to please even the most hedonistic Nomad Woman.

Drink it In

Upshot Whiskey from Whipper Snapper Distillery in Perth, Australia

Learn about how whiskey is distilled and why Whipper Snapper Distillery’s Upshot Whiskey is so delicious.

The liquid spirit of Perth is another draw. With the nearby Swan Valley wineries creating some of the best wines in Australia, a bunch of breweries turning out great brewskies, and super-fine coffee on offer all over town, you won’t go thirsty. Take a tasting at the award-winning Upper Reach winery or the globally known Sandalford Winery in the valley. Hit Billabong Brewing for their gluten-free wheat beer, brewed on the premises. Or head to the super-luxe Northbridge Brewing Company for a brew overlooking the city’s skyline from their rooftop Skydeck. For coffee brewing turned into art, head for Standing Room Only, a tiny place in the middle of Picadilly Arcade, with no seating, as the name implies. All they do is coffee, and they do it perfectly. These guys are passionate about coffee and it shows.

If your spirit needs a spirits lift, you need to go to Whipper Snapper Distillery for a whiskey workshop and tasting. You’ll learn that the recipe was developed during World War II by a couple of bomber pilot mates—one Yank and one Aussie. Then it was tweaked 50 years later by a renowned whiskey maven from Scotland. Learn how it’s made and leave with a bottle of their goes-down-so-easy Australian Upshot Whiskey, aged two years, or their whiskey-inspired smoked honey.

Speed it Up—Get an Adrenaline Shot with These Exciting Things to Do in Perth

Need an adrenaline rush? That’s also easy to find in Perth, whether as a spectator or a super-active participant. You can have a 90-minute motorcycle lesson from Down Under Riders. Enjoy a day-long quad tour just outside town. For something a little less stressful, watch harness racing at Gloucester Park. Water babies can learn to ride that wave at Gone Surfin’ Surf School, and they’ll provide the board. At Rooftop Trapeze, you can learn to be that “daring young woman on the flying trapeze.” And for the highest thrill of all, one I’m dying to do myself, let West Oz Skydiving drop you from a plane up to 14000 feet in the air, attached to a professional for a tandem dive. What a thrill! (To see how I’ve been preparing myself for my own first skydive, check out this post about IFly Indoor Skydiving

A tandem skydive, one of the thrills available in Perth, Australia

Sskydiving is one of the thrills I am dying to experience (no deathwish intended). In Perth, it’s easy.

Throw it Back

For a totally different experience of flight, go back a whole lotta years and take a flight tour in a vintage open-cockpit 1930s bi-plane at Ozwest Aviation. See how daddy did it, complete with the wind against your face. It’s great fun.

What a cool red vintage 1930s biplane.. Rides available at Ozwest in Perth.

In an Ozwest Aviation vintage biplane from the 1930s, you’ll see how daddy (or grandpa) experienced flight.

Don’t Feed the Animals

This is Australia, and you can’t leave without a wildlife hit. I mean… kangaroos, right? You might not think you could find them close to town, but Heirison Island, a wildlife refuge in the Swan River, is teeming with the bounding cuties. They are very tame, and not at all people or camera shy. You may have to walk around the island a bit to spot them, or you can head to their enclosure at dusk, when they emerge from the bush. Get there on the free red CAT bus from the WACA stop then it’s a short walk across the causeway. You’re also likely to see lots of birds on your walk, including egrets, ravens and willy wagtails. Open daily.

A kangaroo looks out from the golden grasses of Heirison Island, not far from Perth, Australia.

To see ‘roos up close, head to Heirison Island, just a short bus ride and a walk across the causeway from Perth.

For another unmissable wildlife experience, you can take the brief ferry ride across the Indian Ocean to Rottnest Island—“Rotto” to the locals—and have a close-up look see at what may be the world’s cutest and friendliest marsupials. Expect the island’s quokkas to steal your heart. These little fellas, about the size of a house cat, will come right up to you as you sit in a café and will happily pose for photos. But please, please don’t handle or feed them. It can make them sick, and there’s a high fine for doing it. Do be prepared for a series of “aww…” moments. These guys are such cuties! Rottnest Island is also worth exploring. The whole place is car free, but you can rent a bike at many places, or just have a lovely walkabout.

A darling little quokka on Rottnest island, looks up with a beseeching face, showing why everyone loves them.

The quokkas on Rottnest Island, a short ferry ride from Perth, provide a whole lot of “Awww…” moments.
But please don’t handle or feed them!

As you can see, there are more than enough fun things to do in Perth to keep you busy for days… or weeks. It’s a part of Australia that’s not on many tourists’ radar. It should be on yours.

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Pin - Cool things to do in Perth, showing the Bell Tower.

Another view of the sculptural grouping of Agnete and the Merman--minus Agnete--with long grasses and moss waving in the blue-green water around their feet.

A Visit with Agnete and the Merman—Copenhagen, Denmark

Agnete and the Merman? Who could that be? A Danish folklore ballad inspired a statue that proves that the famous Little Mermaid is not the only “mer-life” statue that should go on your Things to See in Copenhagen list.

Folklore and Fairytales—Perfect for Copenhagen

Every visitor to Copenhagen knows about and wants to see The Little Mermaid, perched so delicately on her rock at the water’s edge along Langelinie promenade. The Hans Christian Anderson-inspired mermaid has been an iconic tourist attraction in the city for more than a hundred years. She is an intrinsic part of the fairytale that Copenhagen seems to bring to life. But mermaids and mermen are numerous in Danish myth, legend, and fairytale. And there is another statue you can see… assuming the water is smooth and the sun is right. Because Agnete and the Merman is underwater. And Agnete herself is missing.

Inspired by a traditional Scandinavian ballad, the grouping of statues, cast in bronze and positioned on a bronze platform, sits just under the surface of the water in Copenhagen’s shallow Slotsholm Canal, right next to the Højbro Bridge. As I said, Agnete herself is not part of the group, and therein lies the tale, which some say dates back to medieval folklore.

Agnete and the Merman—a Tale of Love, Loss, and Longing

The grouping of seven bronze figures on a square bronze platform called Agnete and the Merman can be seen just below the surface of the blue-green water in the Slotsholm Canal next to the Højbro Bridge, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Agnete’s abandoned Merman and their children, including a baby in arms, mourn their lost wife and mother just below the surface of the water in the Slotsholm Canal next to the Højbro Bridge. Photo: ϟ†Σ on flikr. Creative commons license CC by 2.0,

As the legend goes, Agnete was a pretty, young village girl. One day, as she was walking alongside the water, a merman emerged from the waves. He must have been a handsome devil, because she was instantly smitten with him. The feeling was mutual. When he asked for her hand, the girl, all thought of her home and chores and family flying from her head, immediately accepted and went into the water to live with the merman. And there they lived happily ever after… or at least long enough for her to give birth to seven mer-sons. One day, perhaps swimming too near the surface, Agnete heard the ringing of the church bells wafting from the land. She was struck with homesickness and begged the merman to allow her to go to church. Reluctantly, he consented, making her promise to return right after the service.

At the church, Agnete saw her mother. She learned that the church bells were ringing for the funeral of her father, who had died from sorrow after unsuccessfully searching for her for so many years. Once back on land, she seemed to forget her love for the merman and her children and decided to stay and return to her landed life. In some versions of the folktale, the merman comes to the church to plead with her, telling her that her children are crying for her. But she blithely brushes him aside and leaves with her mother to return to her earlier life.

The suddenly single mer-dad returns to the sea and his children, never to see Agnete again. But her water-logged family never stops missing her.

Danish sculptor Suste Bonnen, who created the sculpture grouping in 1992, used bronze to tell the story of their loss and fittingly placed the figures under the water. With palpable anguish and longing, the merman and his sad children stand there among the reeds and waving mosses. Some bury their faces in their hands or arms; others reach toward the surface of the water, pleading endlessly for the return of their mama. With the swirling, rippling surface of the water, sometimes milky with reflected clouds, often hazy and almost covering the view so it is seen like a fleeting memory, the Slotsholm Canal is the perfect setting for this ancient tale of love and loss.

Another view of the sculptural grouping by Danish aartist Suste Bonnen of Agnete and the Merman--minus Agnete--with long grasses and moss waving in the blue-green water around their feet.

Grasses and reeds swirl around their feet as Agnete’s children raise their arms, pleading for their mother’s return.


The Best Way to Find Agnete and the Merman

It’s easy to miss the statue retelling the story of Agnete and the Merman if you don’t know it’s there. You will, after all, likely be enthralled by the site of the nearby Christiansborg Palace. Also, dozens of tour boats pass right by the statue every day, keeping the water rippled and churned. But it’s worth standing on the bridge awhile, if necessary, waiting for the water to still, or the sunlight to shift a degree or two so you can bring the poor merman and his lonely children into clear view.

I would have missed this Danish treasure entirely except for the fact that I was on a walking tour with a really good guide. He pointed out the sculpture and retold the folktale. It’s just more proof for me that a city walking tour is one of the best ways to be introduced to a new city. You can find a good Copenhagen walking tour here.

In the evenings, which are lovely in Copenhagen if you visit in summer, the statue is lit a ghostly blue-green, or sometimes golden yellow. Somehow, the darkness, the streetlights reflected on the water’s surface, dancing gay and golden, make the statues even more poignant. The figures seem to undulate, keening in the glow of the underwater lights.

The figures of the sculpture Agnete and the Merman look ghostly in the glow of the underwater lights at night, seeming to move and keen with the undulating water.

At night, the sculpture is lit with underwater lights. They give it a haunting quality as the figures seem to
keen in the undulating movement of the glowing lights. Photo by Nettadi: Creative Commons License.

There’s a very good chance that when you get home from your trip to Copenhagen and talk to friends who have also visited this fairytale city, they’ll mention the Little Mermaid or Tivoli or Nyhavn. Visits to these iconic sites are wonderful things to do in Copenhagen. You should definitely have them on your list. But when you recount the tale of Agnete and the Merman, you’ll likely be the only one to have seen the mourning family that lives under the water. And your friends will be hoping they can go back to the fairytale city to see this most unusual of things to do in Copenhagen. They will want to visit the emblem of longing for themselves.


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