Tag: Hotels

Eden Hotel Wolff – an Authentic German Experience in Munich

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Eden Hotel Wolff, Lobby

Staying at the Eden Hotel Wolff in Munich, Germany turned out to be one of the most pleasant, authentic-yet-comfortable experiences I have ever had staying at a hotel in a foreign country.

It all started with arrival in Munich, after several exhausting hours on an airplane from the United States. Even for the most seasoned of travelers, it can be an intimidating experience arriving in a foreign country tired and not sure how to navigate your way around. After taking some time to relax, decompress, and soak in the local atmosphere at the airport, I pursued a strategy to get into town. The Germans are very efficient with transportation, so it was no surprise to find that there is a commuter train that runs direct from the airport into Central Station, downtown Munich, for a few Euros.

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Eden Hotel Wolff, exterior

Imagine my delight, when, weary, jet-lagged, and exasperated, I discovered the Eden Hotel Wolff directly across the street from Central Station! It looked like paradise with the condition I was in. Without having to exhaust myself with any more searching, or walking, I was there! My home for the next four nights.

It was clear upon entering the lobby that this was no run-of-the-mill chain place. It was unique, and had an old-world charm about it while still offering completely modern comfort. I was dazzled by crystal chandeliers, marble trim, painted ceilings, and an acutely courteous staff who were happy to patiently indulge my broken German (because I wanted to practice, not because they didn’t speak English!) When I had trouble with the European outlet converter I had brought, they even were kind enough to offer a loaner.

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My room at the Eden Hotel Wolff

Passing through stairwells and corridors adorned with fine art and fresh bouquets of flowers bursting with color (and, yes, a working elevator!) I made it “home” to my room. And it was unlike any hotel room I’ve ever stayed in before. It had wooden floors, wood panels all along the walls, wooden cabinets… it had a very earthy, rustic-yet-modern feel to it, and all that wood gave off a pleasant aroma. It was like setting up a bed and tv in a fancy sauna and turning off the heat! Meanwhile, in the bathroom I was surrounded by luxurious marble walls and intoxicatingly-scented amenities on the sink that I couldn’t wait to pamper myself with…. after SLEEP!

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Another view of the room

I slept for the rest of the day, and woke up in the evening long enough for a walk in the immediate area. I marveled at the neon lights and harmony of German-speaking voices, traffic horns, and trolley cars. I grabbed some grub at the train station steps away [many inexpensive restaurants to choose from there, including a McDonald’s curiously serving camembert cheese filled donuts and other delicious oddities (!)]. I then returned to the room to observe some soccer delivered by animated German announcers. I’m not ordinarily a soccer fan, but I’m a diehard professional sports fan, so this felt like a good way to start experiencing the culture when I still felt too worn out to do anything else but prepare for a long day the following day.

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Eden Hotel Wolff’s restaurant

In the morning I was spoiled absolutely silly to an incredible complimentary breakfast spread in the hotel’s restaurant. Every day I was treated to a dizzying selection of German specialties for breakfast, like fresh Muesli, varying types of local sausages, cold cuts, and cheeses, a mouth-watering assortment of carefully carved fresh fruit, delectable pastries, and even tantalizingly salty fresh pretzels! And so much more. I grabbed a free newspaper (which were available in multiple languages) and filled up for a day of energetic and ambitious sightseeing. This seems to be quite normal in Germany, to expect an extravagant complimentary breakfast.

The sightseeing… is for an upcoming blog because there is WAY to much to try to say here about this fascinating city of Munich or the day trips I embarked on from there. And I’m not done gushing about this unforgettable hotel experience!

Back in the evening, winded and famished from actively exploring all day, I decided to give the hotel’s restaurant a try, especially noticing they offered one of my favorite, authentic local dishes: Wienerschnitzel.

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Wienerschnitzel with Cranberry Sauce, German Potatoes, and Russ (beer with lemon soda)

The Russ (beer mixed with lemon soda) was extremely refreshing after the long hot day, and quite delicious. I wish it was more widely available outside of Germany! The Wienerschnitzel was cooked to utter perfection and fork tender. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel any more like royalty after this amazing feast, I noticed Kaiserschmarrn on the menu – or “Emperor’s Eggs,” a ridiculously rich indulgence of egg-heavy pancake strips sweetened with powdered sugar and dotted with exotic fruits. I hadn’t tried the likes of it since a trip to Vienna at the age of twelve, and nostalgia prevailed: I had to experience it again. I enjoyed it a lot more this time around, because I’ve developed a much greater sense of open-mindedness about foreign cuisine than I could admit to having at twelve… But this is not your everyday kind of dessert – I think I’ll let nostalgia set in again for a while before I tackle this extravaganza of richness again! It is one of the heaviest, most luscious desert dishes you could ever consume – fit for a king apparently!

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View from the other end of Eden Hotel Wolff’s restaurant

I enjoyed the beautiful wood paneled walls and ceilings, chandeliers, and statuettes and artwork on the walls of the restaurant almost as much as the dinner. This dinner was a wonderful extension of my day of sightseeing in Germany, a very authentic experience from the atmosphere to the cuisine.

Eden Hotel Wolff provided a very authentic German experience that made my stay in Munich all that much more meaningful and enjoyable. And what an amazing bonus it was that I was steps away from Central Station and the double decker buses, and minutes away from the spectacular hub of German architecture and culture that is Marienplatz. Being a travel blogger, I like to try a lot of different hotels. But when I return to Munich, I doubt I will be able to resist another stay at Eden Hotel Wolff!

I filmed a video tour – see it for yourself here!:

 

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Coming up next, more from Germany including Munich, Rothenburg, Bavarian Castles, Hamburg, Berlin, and a Baltic Sea cruise out of Copenhagen, Denmark!

 

Boston: Revisiting the Past in the Present

 

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Marcel Proust wrote that the “real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” When you return to your hometown after an extended time, you return with a new perspective – one that is shaped both by nostalgia and expectations based on your current frame of reference. Memories are like the Peanuts character Linus’ security blanket – it is comforting to return to find things the way you left them, like time stopped and preserved home the way it remained steadfast in your memory while you were away. Of course, it is more likely that things have changed… Some changes will be welcomed, others may shock and dismay. It can leave you feeling emotional and even conflicted the way a visit to another destination can’t. But all in all, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience revisiting your past in the present. I am able to have that experience when I return to my hometown of Boston.

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Like my memory of Boston, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (shown above) are an example of Boston institutions and historic landmarks that seem to have evaded the passage of time. Surrounded by towering skyscrapers, time has stopped here as sure as the time on the clock tower of the Customs House nearby ticks on. In Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, vendors and stores bustle with activity – selling souvenirs, gourmet delicacies, and all kinds of wares while waves of crowds juggle shopping bags of delights. Street musicians and performers display their skills outside while the bars prepare for a rowdy night of feasting, feting, and fanfare in this nightlife-loving college town. It is a place teeming with energy and anticipation for a fun night ahead, just the way I remember it.

One of my favorite aspects of Boston’s landscape is the way that architecture from many different periods of time coexist in dazzling harmony. Above are the Old State House and the new State House, both surrounded by much newer structures, and emphasizing the timeless quality of Boston – grounded in history but modernistic and avant-garde at the same time. Boston is a rich patchwork of the old and the new.

At first glance, Copley Square looked a lot like I remember, surrounded by the old and new John Hancock buildings, Trinity Church, Copley Plaza, the Boston Public Library, and Old South Church. But appearances can be deceiving. I attempted to enter Trinity Church, which had always welcomed visitors through their doors: parishioner and public alike, just as I had done for so many years many years ago. But upon entering I discovered that a partition had been installed to direct visitors through the gift shop to a ticket station where purchase of a $7 ticket was required for admission ($5 student and senior discount). It reminded me of a theme park ride that corrals people through the gift shop on their way in or out – so commercial, and so out-of-place in the setting of a building which had been an inviting sanctuary to so many for so many years. As a matter of principle, and having had the opportunity to gaze at the richly decorated interior in the past, I refused to pay as a matter of principle and left. It wasn’t the place I remembered, and perhaps never would be again. But at least I was still able to behold the magnificence of its exterior design, which had not been tampered with in such a distressing way (yet, anyway!)

The tour trolleys which allow you to hop on and hop off where you wish are a convenient way to explore the city. They take you to divergent neighborhoods such as Charlestown, which houses the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy and heroic vessel in the Revolutionary War, the U.S.S. Constitution, and Cambridge, home to M.I.T. and Harvard, as well as stopping at the sites that are more centrally located in town. The buses come by the stops every 15 minutes to whisk you off to the next point of interest, allowing you to see as much as possible over the course of the day. Given how much there is to see and do in Boston, this kind of efficiency is welcome!

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It was Moon Festival time in Chinatown, and I captured some amazing footage a short walk from my Theater District hotel which is posted in my latest YouTube video.

Dragon-costumed performers and groups of musicians were proceeding business to business spreading good fortune amidst waves of colorful flags decorated with Chinese calligraphy. It is always a boon to arrive in a neighborhood at just the right time to catch a special event that you just wouldn’t get to see every day. It was pouring rain, but getting drenched was a small price to pay for being able to join in on the celebration.

After an exhausting day of sightseeing I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown in the Theater District, which I was thrilled to be able to experience as a historic building that has been beautifully restored and renewed. Not every historic hotel in town has been so lucky… and I was pleased to have been able to support the preservation approach by giving them my business. I am sure to return here again and again. The decor respected the integrity of the historic building, while still providing modern touches that, brilliantly selected, did not seem out of place. The lobby maintains beautiful old woodwork, providing a grand entrance to this historic building – and historic city. The whole Theater District neighborhood has been revitalized in a major way since my last visit as well – one of those changes I am also happy to witness during this hometown return. So while I wasn’t pleased with all of the changes, and it was bittersweet to see a building here or there gone that I remembered from my childhood, Boston was definitely a place I could fall in love with all over again.

Boston from ship

Sailing in the harbor provides the perfect conclusion to witness this impressive skyline all at once. I look forward to what Boston has in store for me the next time I return!

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I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

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Orlando, FL – a Tale of Two Hotels, an Eye in the Sky, and a Trip Around the World!

Orlando is a city of whimsy, fantasy, and wonder. Here are theme parks that indulge your craving for thrills, excitement, and childlike wonder by day, and nightlife and accommodations to cater to your grown-up need for peaceful relaxation and blissful self-pampering by night. At The Castle Autograph Collection Marriott in Orlando, fairy tale fanciful meets trendy chic. This completely unique boutique hotel floods the senses with fairy tale inspired fantasy, including gargoyles, crenelations, and towers on the exterior, and brilliant colors, furniture and decor inspired by nature and luxurious hedonism on the inside.

After an exhausting day of hiking across the globe at Epcot, the outdoor bar, jacuzzi, and heated pool were just what Mickey ordered. Basking in the warm January sun, I had found the ultimate escape. Orlando poses two perplexing decisions: which theme park to visit first, and, with an abundance of competition vying for your business, which hotel to choose. The Castle is definitely one I will be choosing frequently on future visits.

Right next door to the Castle is the breathtaking and imposing Orlando Eye, standing out like an exclamation point over the city as you traverse the highways on your way into town. Towering over a small neighborhood of touristy restaurants, shops, and bars, it is an iconic Orlando landmark. You can ride it for spectacular views of the skyline, theme parks, and more.

After gaining a birds-eye view of the city, I left the pricey tourist area for a strip mall right next door where I found “China Buffet,” a delicious value a short walk back to the hotel. After having some fun practicing my Mandarin Chinese with the staff, I walked back through the garage towards the hotel, which, to my delight, held an extraordinary surprise!

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Orlando is full of delightful surprises like this. It is also a vast metropolis. On another side of town rises another phenomenal hotel option: the Orlando World Center Marriott.

This is a colossal property with a multitude of restaurants, shops, pools, and meeting rooms. A laser show floods the sky with color over the main pool at night. Here, “bigger is better,” and the size of the lobby, pools, water slides, rooms, televisions, and balconies attest to that. This is a dizzying place to explore, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

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But I couldn’t visit Orlando without a stop at the most notorious Orlando icon of all: Disney World. Intrigued by the idea of traveling the earth in a day, I opted for a visit to Epcot.

True to reputation, lines were long – even in January, although admittedly it was a Sunday. There were rides, shows, and exhibitions involving space, the natural world, and miniature villages representing several countries from around the globe. I have a theory that places like this are for adults, not kids… I witnessed numerous children crying and whining while most of the adults seemed to be having a great time! Epcot seems to be a particularly good choice for the adult visitor, because “exploring the world” is something that can appeal to everyone. The scenes and structures are convincingly rendered, at least from a distance, and while it is not a replacement for the “real thing” it’s a fun way to sample a variety of foreign cultures and architectural styles. “Reflections of China” comes with my highest recommendation for adults. This thrilling film surrounds you with 365 degrees of amazing footage of some of the most spectacular sites in China, with no interruption from cartoon characters (like some of the other attractions here.) Other countries represented at Epcot include Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Norway, and Mexico. Regrettably, my camera battery failed fairly quickly (perhaps not regrettably: now I must return!)

Orlando has a tremendous bounty of places to stay and great things to do. It is the perfect city to return to again and again, or for an extended stay. Subscribe to my brand new YouTube channel for upcoming video tours of these hotels, attractions, and more (hopefully getting better and better as I get used to the platform!):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC91pXs3Ydbrw5Uc3EFSkO5Q?

Donation

I am extremely grateful for your generous donation to help keep the site running! This site and individual posts are not sponsored! A dollar may not be a lot, but every dollar counts!

$1.00