“Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, follows her journey through Italy, India and Indonesia. She documents the fantastic eats in Italy, her lessons at an ashram in India, and her love life in Bali. However, these “where to eat, pray & love” travel blogger recommendations highlight other destinations that are perfectly suited to scoffing, reconnecting spiritually and finding romance!
Where to Eat
La dolce vita. The good life. The Italians invented it, in my opinion, and Italian food is renowned around the world. When I travelled to Bologna I only had one goal: eat as much typical Emilia Romagna food as possible. This region of Italy is famous for the pasta Bolognese, the Parma ham, the Parmeggiano Reggiano and balsamico. As I only had little time, I decided to go on a Farm to Table Food tour in Bologna. I learned everything about making cheese according to DOP laws, I tasted 25-year-old Balsamico and saw Parma ham being cured as it has been for centuries. If you’d ever want to escape life and just eat, Bologna is the place to go. The city has many family run trattorias and everywhere you go, you’ll see people living la dolce vita through food.
Blogger: Naomi of Probe Around the Globe. See more on her Instagram.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexican food is some of the world’s best cuisine. Although it can be found in many places, nothing compares to Mexican food in Mexico. The food in Mexico City is not only affordable, but also conveniently accessible – wherever you are. As a taco lover, my stay in Mexico City felt like heaven with taco/torta trucks on almost every block. And let’s not forget the markets! I ate a lot of great food during my 2 months there, but tacos, chilaquiles, tortas, and tamales will always remain my favorites. As for restaurants, this city has it all, including Israeli, BBQ, fusion, seafood, Italian and much more. I also admired the beauty and people of this country, but a third reason I will always return is the food. Mexico City one of my favorite cities.”
I’m originally from a big foodie city, so whenever I travel I love finding the hottest and best places to go eat. I found Brussels to be an amazing city for foodies. The Belgian capital is constantly rated as the top city to dine, and I can see why. With an incredibly diverse selection of cuisines, you can literally find anything you want in Brussels (without sacrificing the quality). From Indian, Japanese, street food and seafood to many Michelin star rated restaurants, Brussels is a place that can satisfy anyone’s taste buds. And not to mention the traditional Belgian fries, waffles and chocolate with some beer! They really are THAT good!
If you’re looking to get to Brussels from London, check out the Eurostar!
Amsterdam is known for many things, but one characteristic that should be on every visitor’s mind is their delicious Dutch food. If you have a sweet tooth, a stroopwafel is a must. It consists of two thin waffles stuck together with syrup, and they are best eaten after resting on a hot cup of coffee to allow the syrup to melt slightly. If you’re a massive cheese fan, you’re in luck as the Reypenaer Tasting Room, close to Anne Franks House, produces award winning cheese. Whilst yousample the cheese, you can also learn a bit of history. If you’re travelling to Amsterdam in the winter months, stamppot is a comfort food worth trying. This traditional delicacy involves mashed potatoes, vegetables,sauerkraut and a Dutch meatball, but there are many varieties. Haesje Claes is a lovely traditional Dutch restaurant that serves this plate, and they have a great awareness of allergies – especially gluten free. If you arrive in Amsterdam and not sure what to have to eat, take a tram to the foodhallen, a food court with independent locals offering pizza, meat, sushi and more, the options are endless!
Seville, Spain is a hotspot for quintessential Spanish culture – and for good reason. The tapa culture here is just incredible! It doesn’t matter which restaurant that you end up visiting, you will find a unique house tapa at the venue that is nothing short of delicious. I have never come across a city that is just so adept at creating so many delicious foods. However, if you’re not one for a gamble, I highly recommend going to Catalina Bar for their goat cheese pie and kataifi wrapped prawns. I also recommend Blanca Paloma for their gambas al ajillo (or pretty much anything on the menu) and El Pasaje for their revolutionary award-winning curry tostada!
Where to Pray
The Vatican, Italy
As someone who was raised in a Catholic family, visiting Italy and being able to experience Vatican City was a very special and touching experience. Even as someone who is not strictly religious, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed while standing inside of St. Peter’s Basilica. In addition to St. Peter’s, which is the world’s largest Christian basilica, a Vatican City visit is not complete without standing inside of the Sistine Chapel in absolute awe of Michelangelo’s famous and iconic painted ceiling. The city-state of Vatican City is also the home of the Pope and an impressive collection of art and architecture. Even if you are not of the Catholic faith, Vatican City is an incredible place for prayer, spirituality, and self-reflection.
Stepping away from the commotion and chaos that is the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, I found the country of Thailand deep in prayer and spirituality. Thailand, often referred to as the land of smiles, a country perfect for supplication. Throughout the country you will find religious monuments, temples and monasteries, dotted throughout the land from Chiang Mai in the North to Hat Yai in the South. These monuments serve as a reminder not only of the great ancient and cultural significance contained within the kingdom, but the need for inner transformation and the urge to connect to something greater than oneself.
Read Rai’s post about the Best Day Trip from Bangkok in Ayuttahaya.
Blogger: Rai of A Rai of Light. See more on his Instagram.
Morocco, you’ll hear the call to prayer (‘adhan’) 5 times a day from just about anywhere in the country. But, faith is something unique to each person. The daily rituals and presence of faith are not overbearing in Morocco, they are simply a part of life. If nature inspires you more, then Morocco is an amazing destination to find solitude and peace to connect with the world around you. My own faith journey was changed in Morocco when I went to the Hassan II mosque for the first time. It was here that I experienced an overwhelming sense of spirituality.
Read the First-Timer’s Guide to Morocco by Amanda.
Blogger: Amanda of MarocMama. See more on her Instagram.
Being surrounded by the highest peaks in the world was one of my best spiritual travel experiences ever. Although already hiking on paths over 5,000 meters in altitude, the mountains were still looming large upon me. This episode made me realize that we humans are actually such a small beings on this incredible planet. The fresh air, the endless views and the ultimate silence up in the mountains of Nepal created such an inspiring environment that even I could sit still and stare in the distance, thinking about nothing. It is the ultimate place on Earth to escape our rushed daily lives. When you’re there, you can just enjoy nature; nothing or no one can come in between your pure experience.
India might be cliche for the “Pray” section of “Eat, Pray, Love”… But it is like that for a reason: IT WORKS! My first trip to India was in 2011, and I was immediately hooked on the country. When I was going through a difficult time emotionally, India was the bandage that I needed. I went to an Ayurvedic resort in Kerala, and it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. This is the place where I discovered yoga and mediation. This 7-days intensive Ayurvedic retreat combined with yoga and meditation changed my life. Here, I experienced complete relaxation, and my mind was able to turn off for a while. Usually continuous thoughts chase away meditation, but the peace in India allowed me to push away distractions and meditate.
Read Mihaela’s post about Ayuverda in Kerala.
Blogger: Mihaela of World Travel Bug. See more on her Instagram.
Where to Love
The Maldives scream ‘love,’ and we couldn’t agree more. Some people make the trip for a Maldives honeymoon, some for the epic diving, and others journey to the secluded location just to get away and reconnect with their loved ones. My husband and I spent our time island hopping in the Maldives for 5 weeks and celebrated our 3 years’ on-the-road anniversary. We had been traveling at high-speed places, and the Maldives was the perfect place to slow down. The destination helped us to find the love of travel again and rekindle our love for each other. The Maldives will always be a special place for us, and we know we’ll be back again soon. No other place in the world compares to the Maldives.
Blogger: Hannah of Getting Stamped. See more on her Instagram.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the perfect destination for love, whether you are traveling there with your partner or arrive looking to find love. What is more romantic than watching the African sunset from a white beach, looking out over the city lights form Table Mountain or enjoying a wine tasting at a beautiful wine farm?
I met my girlfriend in Cape Town, and the atmosphere and the beauty of the city definitely played a part. There is something romantic and perfect about Cape Town that you can just not understand until you experience it. The city is filled with beautiful hidden spots, nature and romantic restaurants. The Winelands is the perfect place for a date – and maybe even for a proposal or wedding!
I know that Paris comes with a pre-conceived notion that love is in the air. It is a city of beauty, history, incredible food, and screams a romantic atmosphere. I travelled there on my own without any plans to meet anyone, but you know what!? Paris really does live up to this its nickname of the “City of Love.” I met my husband right along the banks of the Seine, while was sitting on the ledge right outside the Musee D’Orsay after a tiring day of climbing… You know, 300+ steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower, then another 200+ steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. (So clearly, although I had eaten several macarons, I had had met my exercise quota for that day.) Somewhat tired, I was leisurely people-watching when a beautiful creature approached. Broken backpack, funny shoes, and a smile only he could have. He, an Australian native, drew closer to me, a Canadian girl, as I said a casual “hello” and then asked him the quintessential question… Wait for it….
“Do you like the Muppets?” He, of course, had an affinity for Kermit the Frog and all his BFFs, so we hit it off just fine. Due to my break-the-ice success, we enjoyed each other’s company for the duration of our 6-week European tour. We marvelled at the Colosseum together, walked along the black beach in Santorini together and savoured many a foodie’s ultimate feast. However, it was this initial meeting in Paris that has led to nearly 3 years of marriage, living on two continents, and experiencing adventures around every corner.
Romance was the top of my pre-conceived Paris notions!
Most people don’t move to an unknown island nation thinking they will meet a partner, let alone the love of their life. After only a week of living in the Marshall Islands, where I imagined I would probably be alone for the next year or two, I met Nick. He was also a teacher at the school I just started at, and had lived there two years already. I first saw him, covered in tattoos, wearing work out clothes and all muscles… Not my type in the slightest. But it only took a few days for this 6’5 American to woo me. Between conversations of travels and the most intelligent conversations I had in a long time, usually taking place at night under the stars, and watching the sunset over the pacific, I could hardly resist the man who I now call my partner. Over two years, and living in two different countries, I know that regardless where we are, I am home as long as I am with him.
I remember our first date like it was yesterday. We were sitting in a cafe in London, discussing how much we would love to explore Iceland. I was mesmerized how he wanted to go and do exactly the same things as me. Two months later, we landed at Reykjavik airport, ready to embark on a 2-week road trip. Iceland was beautiful. A perfect romantic destination. We watched gorgeous sunsets, enjoyed breathtaking views after hikes, dipped in hot springs, got pampered in the Blue Lagoon, saw adorable puffins for the first time and sang road trip music. So many precious memories. I experienced all this by the side of my boyfriend, who said “I love you” to me for the very first time cuddling in our camper van after a day full of magical moments.
Read Enikő’s post about what you should know before you travel to Iceland!
Blogger:Enikő of Travel Hacker Girl. See more on her Instagram.
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