Tag Archives: Food

Riga Travel Guide

Riga, Latvia has a Western vibe with a difference. There is the modern Riga – dynamic and exciting – and the old Riga with its cobblestone streets and historic buildings. Cultural activities abound, including the Latvian National Opera, exhibition halls and museums, to the lively modern side offering trendy cafés, restaurants and excellent nightclubs. As with any beautiful city, it can be expensive, however there is a wealth of things to do which are either free or great value for money. Read on to learn more about this amazing city in our Riga travel guide.

Riga Travel guide photo

Riga – Shopping

There are many wonderful department stores, such as Podium, offering a huge selection of different items, however for a true Riga shopping experience head to the Old Town. Here you will find narrow streets with wonderful little shops selling souvenirs and hand-made crafts. Visit one of the art galleries to see what the local artists are producing and perhaps pick up a great investment. Prices of imported goods can be very expensive, but local products including food and alcohol are still relatively cheap and there are bargains to be had.

Getting Around Riga

It is possible to travel around Riga in a variety of different modes of transport, such as trams, mini and trolleybuses, but nothing can beat strolling around on foot. Be sure before setting out that you have taken adequate cover such as Bupa travel insurance – important whenever you travel. A great free walking tour is available which is run by extremely enthusiastic local people who take the greatest of pleasure in showing you the real Riga; you will get to discover far more than just the usual tourist areas. The tour starts each day at 12:00, meeting in front of St Peter’s Church and operates on tips only, so feel free if you have had a good time.

So Much To Do

Visit the Centrāltirgus Market with its five separate pavilions housed in old German Zeppelin hangers, but remember to take your own shopping bags, as goods are generally sold without. Take a romantic stroll around Bastion Hill, a stunning park in the Bastejkalns area, or if you prefer something more active, then rent a bicycle, perhaps from “Gandrs” bike rental and do visit Fantasy Park which offers bowling, snooker, children’s playgrounds, party rooms and video games. On Friday and Saturday nights it becomes a nightclub that is popular with locals and visitors alike.

Riga is an amazing city in northeastern Europe that will enchant and enthrall – guaranteeing that you will return very soon.

Cool Things Compliments of The Philippines!

This archipelago on the Southeast portion of Asia, composed of more than 7000 islands is known for a lot of things, such as the world renowned Tubbataha Reef, the tasty dish adobo, the poker game with a twist called pusoy, and the most popular is the picturesque waters of Boracay.

The Tubbataha Reef is a natural wonder in itself. Located in the Sulu Sea, there “lies an underwater nature reserve that is considered both as a mecca for scuba divers and model for coral reef conservation,” as described by the reef’s website TubbatahaReef.org. Not only is the reef an ideal location due to its beauty, but it also boasts of a rich marine biodiversity. According to the same website, there are “600 species of fish, 360 species of corals (about half of all coral species in the world), 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins & whales, 100 species of birds, and also nesting Hawksbill & Green sea turtles.”

Shark in Coral Reef

The delicious dish adobo, on the other hand, is unique because the marinade (of garlic and vinegar) used in the meat will also serve as its sauce. It’s quite an easy dish to make; you even have the option of using pork, chicken, or tofu. Marinate your choice of meat for about a couple of hours. Heat some oil in a saucepan, then cook the garlic (from your marinade) on it until brown. Stir-fry the meat, and after that add the rest of the marinade and some bay leaf. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then serve with steamed rice.

adobo cooking

Meanwhile, the Filipinos are known as a creative bunch—so creative, in fact, that they managed to twist the traditional poker game into a variant called pusoy. Sure, we’re used to the customary poker weekend, or participating in online tournament, so maybe after learning the rudiments of this local card game we can squeeze in a round or two of it just to deviate and avoid boredom. So, how is this played? BicycleCards tells us the basics. The goal is to get two or three winning hands out of the dealt thirteen cards. “To win the bet, two out of three of a player’s hands must beat the three hands of the dealer. If all three hands beat the dealer’s three hands, the player wins double the bet. If only one hand wins, the player loses the bet. If all three hands lose to the dealer, the player loses double the bet,” as provided by BicycleCards.com.

Unique Card Games

Boracay is an island in The Philippines that TripAdvisor.com advocated in this way: “As long as you visit during dry season, you’ll agree this is one of the best beach destinations in the world.” By day, the island is the perfect paradise for your getaway—pristine seas, white powdery sands and friendly locals. When night falls, Boracay is the ultimate party place; you can dance or listen to acoustic music all evening. One holiday spent here is never enough.

Borocay Beach in Philippines

Philadelphia Travel Guide

The Philly Skyline on a sunny day

“The City of Brotherly Love”, the pride and joy of Rocky Balboa, the 5th largest city in the United States, and the heavenly site of my birth, Philadelphia! Philly, as it is more commonly known, is one of the oldest cities in the country and has more cool stuff to check out than any long weekend can offer. You’ve been waiting for it, I’ve been slacking on it, but now, it’s time. Here’s the Philadelphia Travel Guide!


The first Europeans to stake claim on the Delaware Valley where Philadelphia is located, were the Swedish believe it or not in the early 1600’s. It remained under their control until the 1680’s when William Penn was awarded the territory of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania stands for Penn’s woods) by King Charles the II of England in 1681. Penn, who decided to leave England because of religious persecution, established the Pennsylvania territory as a place for people to practice whatever religion they chose freely, a truly progressive idea for the time.

He wanted to create a town that would be a center for government, but wouldn’t be overcrowded with residential and commercial properties and would boast a multitude of parks and gardens. Penn’s unique grid-layout city at 90 degree angles was the first major US city to be planned as such. By the early 1700’s, Philadelphia began to boom, and one famous resident, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with so many urban advancements, that it’s almost unthinkable to believe one man did so much for one place (think post office, fire brigade…electricity!)

Philadelphia was the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and served as the nation’s capital from 1790 until 1800 while Washington D.C. was under construction.

Today, Philadelphia has expanded to be the 5th largest city in the country with a population of over 1.5 million people.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

Philadelphia sprawls over a large land area, but it also has one of the biggest downtowns in the USA. That being said, you will most likely opt to stay in downtown, known as Center City. This core has many different neighborhoods and is generally accepted as being from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River (pronounced SKook-ill) and from South Street to Fairmount Avenue.

Some nice areas to stay are in Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, Olde City, Fairmount and Fittler Square, all of which offer good dining options, nightlife and walking distance to the lion share of the city’s best museums and attractions.

What to See in Philadelphia

If museums are your thing, and even if they aren’t, there are some must-sees in Philadelphia. Firstly, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is famous in its own right. The iconic neo-classical façade looks like a massive Greek temple, and it overlooks the city from its perch atop a small hill in an acropolistic fashion. It is affectionately known as the “Parthenon on the Parkway” and its steps are world famous for the scene in Rocky where he runs up and thrusts his hands up in pride. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest museums in the country and has countless works from modern masterpieces to ancient treasures. Don’t forget to check out the amazing collection of arms and armor.

The Franklin Institute is another museum in Philadelphia, and probably the best science museum in the country. It is dedicated to none other than Ben Franklin himself and guards some of his most interesting inventions, huge exhibits on trains, planes, medical advancements and space. There is a one-of-a-kind spherical IMAX theater that plays science related movies, as well as Hollywood blockbusters. The planetarium does laser light shows to soundtracks on the weekends for such bands as Pink Floyd, Metallica and Radiohead just to name a few.

Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the coolest things to see in Philadelphia! Located in Fairmount, Eastern State looks like a medieval castle plopped into the middle of a city. It was an operational jail from 1829 until 1971 and one of the first of its kind where reform was focused on instead of punishment (even though it looks like people were tortured there from the outside!). Famous inmates included Al Capone and Willie Sutton. You can take a tour seven days a week, from 10 am to 5 PM.

Historic Jails in America

Independence Mall

Located just west of Olde City, Independence Mall is home to Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), the Visitor’s Center, Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell. Basically everything you could possibly want to learn about the founding of the United States with the artifacts to go along with it!

Where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Magic Gardens
Located at 10th and South Street, the Philadelphia Magic Gardens are amazing; three urban plots completely covered in mosaic glass and other interesting thingamajiggers. They are the work of Isaiah Zagar and what started as just a personal project is now a gallery, museum and outdoor labyrinth where you can wander around and marvel at the mosaics. They are made from everything from classic tiles and glass to old bike wheels and other urban relics.

Philadelphia Zoo

The first zoo in the United States, the Philadelphia Zoo opened its doors in 1874. It’s just a couple of miles from downtown making it an easily accessible attraction that you can spend an entire day at it with its sprawling grounds and interested animals and exhibits. One of the coolest things to do is actually buy a ticket for the Zooballon, a giant helium balloon that rises 400 ft. above the zoo for commanding views of the Schuylkill River and the Philadelphia skyline (don’t worry, it’s tethered!)

What to eat in Philadelphia

Well this one is basically a no brainer, obviously when in Philadelphia, you have to eat a Cheese steak! You’ll hear a lot about two places, Geno’s and Pat’s which are in South Philly, but don’t waste your time or money. The best cheese steak in Philadelphia is Steve’s Prince of Steaks, which lucky for you, just opened a  new location at 16th and Chestnut right in the heart of downtown.

cheesesteaks in philadelphia

After you’ve sampled a cheese steak  you are free to enjoy the rest of the burgeoning food scene in Philadelphia, one that’s been getting a lot of international attention. There are a wealth of amazing places to enjoy, with a high concentration of them in downtown.

For breakfast/brunch, don’t miss Honey’s Sit and Eat in the Northern Liberties section. This place has an awesome brunch and ambiance that will leave you feeling almost as hip as the hipsters running it.  You can find it at 800 N 4th St. Another hipsterific place to grab a coffee and the best fresh donuts you’ll ever have is Federal donuts at 1632 Sansom St.

For lunch, you have to go to Reading Terminal Market. Located right in downtown at 12th and Arch. This is the farmers market that other farmers markets strive to be. Encompassing an entire city block, Reading Terminal Market has amazing, fresh made-to-order food at countless stalls. There are also multiple stalls run by true Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) who come in and sell their meats, breads and sweets. You could honestly eat every single meal here for a month and never grub at the same place twice, nor have a bad meal.

For dinner, some great places are The Continental (modern tapas), Han Dynasty (Szechuan style Chinese) El Vez (Mexican) Bellini Grill (Italian and a BYOB) and Audrey Claire (Modern Farm to Table, BYOB and Cash Only)

Where to drink in Philadelphia

Philly has some pretty solid nightlife and there is no shortage of watering holes. Some of the best bars with great cocktails are Franklin MortgageButcher Singer and The Ranstead Room. For great all around bars, head to Time, Fado, McGillin’s (oldest bar in Philadelphia) Ladder 15 and Buffalo Billiards.

If you’re looking to cut a little rug, then Philly has some clubs to get your booty grooving including Lit Ultra Bar, Whisper and Z Bar.

Philadelphia is really a great place to spend a few days and is very stress-free to get to. The Philadelphia International Airport is easy to navigate, has flights from virtually everywhere, and is served by both public buses and a train that goes directly downtown. Philadelphia is also only 2 hours south of New York City by bus (faster on the train) and 3 hours north of Washington D.C. making it the perfect place to base explorations into the mid-Atlantic region or northeast.

I hope my Philadelphia Travel Guide was useful to you and that it makes your next trip to the City of Brotherly Love a memorable one!


Boston Travel Guide

When the weather begins to warm up, New England turns into an extremely pleasant and picturesque area to venture to for a long weekend. At the heart of New England lays Boston, a dense urban center full of historic sites, elite academic institutions, skyscrapers, parks, and hip venues; attractions that are all but a short walk or train ride on this nation’s oldest subway system away; the T. While it is obvious that you cannot cover an entire city in a weekend, Boston’s compact square mileage and density allow for you to cover most of it and at least the parts you wish to see most, very easily.

Boston is a brilliant mix of tasteful sophistication and historic New England appeal. During a weekend visit to Boston, it is effortless to unearth the city’s vibrant history while also enjoying its uniquely modern frame. This Atlantic coast bay city is home to outstanding musical and theatrical productions, fanatical sports fans and teams, museums, trolley tours, ethnic and food and wine festivals.

An agenda for what to do during a weekend visit to Boston should be tailored to the individuals making the trip. Using this list as a guide, you will surely find more to enjoy than not. Just don’t forget to apply for your visa to the USA before showing up at the airport.

Freedom Trail

Many of Boston’s sights are located on the Freedom Trail and are available to enjoy for free. Walking is the best way to see this city and the Freedom Trail will lead you on a fantastic stroll through Boston’s brownstone Beacon Hill neighborhood on cobblestone paths in the shadow of the golden rotunda of the Massachusetts State Capitol. Take a break in the Boston commons and if you so choose, indulge with a ride on the famous swan boats. Finish your walk near the waterfront at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market where there are a plethora of shops and restaurants to refresh.


Located across the Charles River, Cambridge is home to both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), two of the finest and oldest academic institutions in the country. This truly unique city is host to a vibrant and diverse community of both academics and professionals. Harvard Square at the heart of Cambridge is more of a social and commercial focal point. There are plenty of bookshops, restaurants, bars, cafes, and options for both boutique and brand-name shopping. The best place  for a bite to eat is on Cambridge Street at the East Coast Grill.

Fenway Park

Baseball stadium in Boston

At Fenway, sure the seats are small and uncomfortable and the food and alcohol is extremely overpriced, but this park is absolutely a must-see for every sports fan young and old. The oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball located on famous Yawkey Way, is best known for its ambiance,  atmosphere and the Green Monster, a 37 foot high wall that extends straight from left field to center field where many heroes made names for themselves including gracefully-swinging left-fielder Ted Williams.

The North End

One evening of your trip must be spent dining in Boston’s famous Italian neighborhood, The North End. Anchored by its main drag, Hanover Street is host to various restaurants, bakeries and cheese and wine shops. You can’t go wrong eating at Giacomo’s, a very sma…intimate space with infamously long lines where you choose a pasta, a sauce, and a meat or fish and an Italian wait staff yells your order to an Italian chef in the kitchen. The wait is worth it! Top off your night with mouthwatering pastries at Mike’s!

The North Shore

North Shore, Boston

This beautiful region north of Boston is a wonderful place to spend a day in New England outside the city of Boston and is all within an hour away. The north shore of Massachusetts is made up of a rocky coastline, marshes and wetlands, many beaches and harbors, as well as being home to a variety of delectable fresh seafood. The north shore is a haven for beach lovers and oceangoing types alike.

Being rich in American history also allows for interesting cultural activities — from the Salem Witch Trial attractions, to art museums to the many sites dedicated to the area’s seafaring heritage. Don’t leave without stopping at the original Kelly’s Roast Beef and Seafood on Revere Beach. A fat lobster roll and a hot clam chowder are absolutely necessary.

I hope you enjoy Boston as much as I did growing up there and that my Boston Travel Guide will make your visit to my home city one to remember.

By: Brian Longin