Author Archives: Shelli

About Shelli

Shelli Stein is a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! Besides contributing to Travel with Grant, you can find her at Joy in Movement.

Italian Vacation Part 3: Hotel Mozart in Rome, AquaSalata Fish Restaurant & Villa Borghese Gardens

Are you taking advantage of Europe being on sale these days? I know many readers are heading over the pond. If Italy is in your plans, either now or sometime in the next year or so, be sure to read this post. After all, who doesn’t plan on visiting Italy sooner or later. I’ve got four Italian destinations for you, so let’s get started. In Part 1, I talked about Venice and Milanin Part 2, I talked about Florence, and what to see/do/eat in those cities. In this post, I’ll share tips with you about Rome, so let’s dig in.

ROMA (Rome, Italy)

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. Image source: http://www.cntraveler.com/destinations/rome

To begin, let me talk about taking the train from Florence to Rome. Usually, I use Trenitalia train service, which is owned by the Italian government. I heard about Italotreno which is a competitor and offers relatively new high speed train service. I had heard that the main advantage was that it cost less. However, that’s only if you buy your ticket ahead of time, so beware of this. I did decide to give them a try, even if the cost was the same as Trenitalia. Their trains were late and there was insufficient storage for luggage. So sure, the savings might be worth it, but if you don’t buy your train ticket ahead of time, I still prefer Trenitalia. Actually, I think next time I’ll try BlaBlaCar, the long distance carpooling service!

For lodging, I stayed at Hotel Mozart which was recommended to me by my cousins. The hotel is near the Spanish Steps on Via Condotti, which if you’re at all familiar with Rome, you’ll know is a busy part of Rome. Do make sure to ask for a quiet room. My cousins warned me about asking for a quiet room, so I did just that and didn’t have any issues with noise. The room was lovely, the concierge Rosella was very helpful, and Alex at the front desk had a great sense of humor! The breakfast spread is included with the price of the room and it was everything and more that you could want. There’s a music conservatory on the same street, so I enjoyed hearing opera being sung when I was in my room during the day. The hotel is priced on the high side, but like Hotel La Scaletta in Florence, if you use your Citi Prestige Credit Card 4th night free benefit, the cost is offset.

Breakfast at Hotel Mozart in Rome, Italy. Image source: http://www.hotelmozart.com/en/gallery/

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Italian Vacation Part 2: Fishing Lab in Florence, Leaning Tower of Pisa & Wall Walking in Lucca

Are you taking advantage of Europe being on sale these days? I know many readers are heading over the pond. If Italy is in your plans, either now or sometime in the next year or so, be sure to read this post. After all, who doesn’t plan on visiting Italy sooner or later. I’ve got four Italian destinations for you, so let’s get started. In Part 1, I talked about Venice and Milan, what to see/do/eat and what not to eat in Venice! In this post I’ll share tips with you about Firenze, so let’s dig in.

FIRENZE (Florence, Italy)

Florence, Italy at night. Image source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/florence

When in Florence, I stay at Hotel La Scaletta. It went through a renovation a few years ago, so it’s much more modern than it was back in 2011 when I first discovered it. I like a lot of things about this place. First off, Silvia, Sara, and the rest of the front desk crew are absolutely the best. They are so Italian and warm and when you’re there, you’re family! The hotel is well-positioned in being on the side of the river AWAY from all the crowds and heavily-visited sites. Yet, it’s close enough that you could walk there from the train station and you can certainly get to any of the main sites from Hotel La Scaletta with an easy 15 minute walk.

The Hotel La Scaletta rooftop has tables and chairs where you can have meals or just hang out and enjoy the views. The rooms aren’t large, though, certainly clean and recently refurbished, but the WiFi was glitchy, so if you have a lot of work to do, it’s frustrating. Breakfast is an extra fee, so I’d suggest taking your breakfast out at one of the many cafes in the area. Hotel La Scaletta is very reasonably priced and if you use your Citi Prestige Credit Card 4th night free benefit, well, it’s even a better price!

Rooftop View from Hotel La Scaletta in Florence, Italy. Image source: http://www.hotellascaletta.it/?act=gallery

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Italian Vacation Part 1: Gelato in Venice, Park Hyatt Milan Meat Slicer and the Last Supper

Are you taking advantage of Europe being on sale these days? I know many readers are heading over the pond. If Italy is in your plans, either now or sometime in the next year or so, be sure to read this post. After all, who doesn’t plan on visiting Italy sooner or later. I’ve got four Italian destinations for you, so let’s get started.

VENEZIA (Venice, Italy)

Venice, Italy by water

Venice is an amazing place. I could easily sit all day and watch the waterway life. But of course, I had to stay somewhere, eat something, drink coffee and indulge in gelato, so here are some tips for you. When I’m in Italy, I have my priorities, so let’s start with gelato :)

There’s actually a place in Venice I’d suggest staying AWAY from. It’s called Gelateria Alaska. It was on some lists of top gelato in ALL of Italy, which totally baffles me. First off, the guy working there was plain nasty. “Can I taste a flavor?” I asked him. He responded with a gruff NO. I should have walked out at this point because his energy was plainly foul, but I didn’t. And the gelato was not very good at all. Oh well. Lesson learned, stay away from Gelateria Alaska. My preferred gelato in Venice is Grom. They’ve been around for a while now and can be found throughout Italy. I’m definitely partial to their pistachio and chocolate with hazelnut flavors.

Grom Gelato in Venice, Italy. Image source: http://comradechufood.blogspot.com/2011/12/grom-venice-italy.html

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My Simple Currency Exchange Rate Philosophy

On the surface, a discussion about currency exchange rates may sound simple. There are best practices for how to get the best rates and how to access foreign currency when you’re on a trip. Those seem like the nuts and bolts of any discussion. And best practices do change from time to time.

I remember when a really cool thing to do for Euros was to go to your local AAA office where you could buy Euro starter packs at a pretty decent exchange rate. For people who were just beginning to travel abroad, it was a great idea. I used to get them as gifts for couples going to Europe on their honeymoon! I have no idea if AAA still does that, but in the old days, they used to sell out quickly.

Image source: http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/A-brief-history-of-money-11059182.php

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A New Yorker Returning Home for a Few Days

Do you live where you were born and raised? Given the transient nature of life these days, and perhaps because the United States is such a big country with so many possible “hometowns,” it’s likely you don’t. I was born and raised in New York City and frankly, I don’t get back there nearly enough. And feeling like it had been way too long between visits, I recently spent 5 days there. Wow, not only did I have a fantastic time, but I’m leaving there feeling proud to be a New Yorker. What a great, vibrant, amazing place!

I know that every article and blog post about NYC will tell you what to see and do, and in fact we have quite a few Boarding Area bloggers who call NYC home and do a great job covering the NYC scene, so I’m just going to mention two wonderful sites to see that don’t come up on lists. I’ll also suggest a coffee place that has locations throughout the city. And how can I not mention my trip to JFK from Manhattan on the subway??

I walk A LOT when I travel, and NYC’s 23 square miles provides plenty of walking opportunities. I averaged about 11 miles a day walking, so please, get out on the streets and walk. It’s the BEST way to see and experience the city!

One of my favorite places to walk is Riverside Park. The people who live by and use Riverside Park probably won’t like me spilling the beans, but this park is wonderful. It spans 4 miles and the views of the river and New Jersey are wonderful, there are wooded paths as well as paved paths for walking or running, lots of dog parks, plenty of benches for enjoying the park or hanging out and reading, tennis and basketball courts, as well as fields for soccer and baseball. I really enjoy this place! Check out the VIRTUAL tour of the park!

Grant’s Tomb at the end of Riverside Park – New York City

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