Travel

Is Germany a Place Worth Visiting When I Travel to Europe?

 Hamburg. Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?

Should I include Germany in my European travels?

Everything you need to know and maybe a little you shouldn't.

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While planning out your journey to Europe, whether you are going for a few weeks or a few months, the first thing on your list will be to figure out where you will go. Most of your decision should be based on the type of person you are, so I am going to touch on some of the facts about Germany, and will let you decide on whether these facts determine to take a pass on the Fatherland or go for it.

I am an American who's married to a German, so I've lived in Germany a few different times and am currently living here. We have traveled all throughout Germany and its neighboring countries so feel free to leave any questions in the comments below. I would love to share with you our advice on traveling and living here in Europe! 

Is Germany expensive?

One of the first things you should know is that Germany is not cheap, especially with the way the Euro is right now.  There is a great app called XE that is simple and straightworfward for you to keep updates on the exchange rate. In comparison to other European countries, Germany is probably somewhere in the middle. Switzerland or France, on the other hand, are some of the most expenisve. Here is a list of the top ten most expensive countries in Europe. You'll see that Germany isn't one of them, but that doesn't mean it's cheap.

Food

  • Eating out

Like America or any westernized culture, Germany has places to eat that are more expensive, less expensive and somewhere in the middle. Eating out at a mid-level restaurant will run you anywhere from 10-15 Euro per plate. Fast food is hard to find apart from McDonald's, Burger King or KFC unless you're in a big city. There are options such as Doener Kebaps, a Turkish delicacy similar to a Greek Gyro, but better. Little food stands or trucks are just about everywhere, ready to give you a fresh and yummy Kebap. Those will run you around 6-9 Euro a pop. If you're in little mountain villages, fast food is almost non-existent, so be prepared to spend more at cute little German restaurants.

  • Grocery stores

Thanks to Aldi and Lidl you will be able to find anything you need supermarket-wise at a great price. Most times, cheaper than in America. A good bottle of wine there will cost you anywhere from 2 Euro to 10 Euro. I once bought a 2011 Bourdeaux that was amazing for 4 Euro! I did a test to see whether it was all in my head how good these wines were. My father-in-law is a wine snob, to say the least. He has his two glasses of wine every night, and will only drink the best. We had them over one time, and I served him a 4 Euro bottle of Lidl wine. He said it was fantastic and asked me where I got it. So, there you go. If you are on a budget while traveling, these are your places to get food. They are everywhere, so finding one won't be hard. 

  • Bakery's

These are a German's fast food. They have awesome sandwiches, Bretzels, pizza bread, and so much more. It's a dream come true for those of you who like bread. Make sure you buy yourself what is called a Berliner when you are there. It's the best donut you will ever have. Germans just know their stuff when it comes to bread!

Housing/Hotels/Hostels

  • Airbnb - In my opinion, the best way to go. Hotels are very expensive in Germany. Sure, you get a nice, semi-expected experience, but even then, you never know what you're going to get. The hotels in the German Alps or Allgau are absolutely breathtaking but will cost you. The Hubertus is one we have been to, and love it, but for their price, it's a treat once every few years.
  • Hostiles - Affordable. That's all I'll say. I have not much experience with them, except for ten years ago. It could be things have changed, but since I don't have the experience, I have little to offer on the subject. You can find some good info here from someone else if you so choose to go this route.
  • Hotels - Like I said before, not the cheapest. If it's a pool for the kids you are wanting in a hotel, then make sure you ask ahead of time. Many of them don't have one. One time I called around to see if certain hotels had a pool, and I was laughed at numerous times. Anything that is quaint and cute or culturally enticing, will most likely not have a pool unless it's a wellness center. 

Gas/Trains/Buses

  • Traveling by car - If you go to Germany, I would highly recommend renting a car. The best places you will find to visit, which I will touch on later, can only be reached by car. Gas, though, is very expensive. Right now it ranges anywhere from 1.20-1.41 Euro per Liter. That's one-third of a gallon, which makes it anywhere from $3.60-$4.23 per gallon. This is a good site for current prices. Numbeo.com
  • Train - Deutsch Bahn will be your go-to for trains. Berlin to Munich runs you about $150. The shorter destinations would obviously be cheaper, but then you are still limited in places to go. I would say if you are only traveling from city to city, trains are a good way of public transportation.
  • Bus - Buses or subway transportations are great for traveling through the cities. It's just stressful! It took me 2 months living in Hamburg to finally get the subway down. That could just be me, but if I were traveling a short time here, I wouldn't want to mess with it. It's also a different language for you, so you add that on top of it, and it becomes a bit of a hassle. 

Is Germany safe?

One of the safest! It also depends on where you are, though. Just be smart about it. Don't go roaming the streets late at night in a big city. I did that in New York City one time, which was probably the stupidest things I could do as a woman, but in comparison to that, Germany is like a safe haven. Obviously, you have your terrorist attacks going on everywhere, but how is America or anywhere else any safer right now? I tend to avoid big festival areas like October Fest and populated big city Christmas markets. Now they have prepared a bit more and usually have barricades that guard the entrances. Again, it's up to you in how comfortable you feel with it, but overall Germany is a very safe country. 

Is Germany friendly?

In my experience, not always. Living here is different because once you get to know Germans, they will be your friends for life. Unfortunately, if they don't know you then they won't be the friendliest of people. That goes to say, for some reason, Germans are especially rude while at the grocery store. Here are a few things to be prepared for.

Grocery Store Awareness

Going to the grocery store puts me in a bad mood every single time. Don't be surprised if you are in front of the line at a checkout, and if another lane opens, everyone will shove and push to get to the now open one. It doesn't matter if they were one or ten persons behind you. It's almost as if someone threw a giant wad of cash in the air and everyone rushes to get theirs. Personal space is really not on their radar either. They will bump, push, shove, and think nothing of it.

10 thoughts I have at the grocery store

  1. If you touch me with your cart one more time. 
  2. Next time I hold the door for you and you don't say thanks, I'll key your car.
  3. You're welcome for picking up something you dropped, in response to nothing at all! 
  4. After you!!! Because you are you, you must be SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME!
  5. I am going to put my groceries in my bag as slow as I can so that you will have no choice but to wait. Then when you bump me with that cart again because you have the patience of a two-year-old, I'll make eye contact, and you won't know what to do with yourself.
  6. No, I don't go to the grocery store every day, so yes, I do have a full cart of groceries you need to wait in line behind. Yes, it will take the space of the entire conveyer belt, so BACK OFF and stop trying to put your stuff on it before I am done!!!
  7. I didn't say you could cut me in line lady over 50! I can spot a line cutter from a mile away. 
  8. She's going to cut me in line. Look at her, inching in front of me like I won't notice. Not today she's not!
  9. Sure, have the parking spot I've have had my signal on for, for the last five minutes.
  10. Yes, I do speak English to my child. Yes, I see you staring.

I am working on my patience and love while at the grocery store. It’s something that consumes my mind way more than it should. It is really teaching me to not do things because I want something in return.

Bigger cities are more international, which makes cultural difference awareness much better, but anywhere else, don't expect to be treated like you are in the states. I have heard Spaniards are worse, and that came from a German, so. In essence, keep to yourself and just smile. You have to let those crabby people roll right off your shoulders. They might make you feel like your existence is getting in the way of them getting home to have their cake and coffee, but you just have to in the words of Taylor Swift “Shake it off.” I can laugh at it now, but when I first got here, I swear I needed an I.V. of Zoloft when I got back from the grocery store. This is probably the only thing that makes Germany unsafe. You might suffer from mental health issues after being at a grocery store for too long.

Is Germany a place worth seeing?

This question should very much be based on what type of person you are. Here's the kind of people Germany is not suited for. 

Germany IS NOT suited for these types of people

  • Campers, unless camping to you is being packed into a campground like a sardine. Some people like that!
  • Last minute, spontaneous people.
  • People who love the sun.
  • People without a plan.
  • People who don't like people everywhere they go, even the most "remote" places in the mountains.
  • Foodies - German food is the only food they do well unless you’re in a big city.
  • Slow drivers.
  • Prude people, who don't want to see nakedness in family settings.

I just now while writing this article, ate an entire bag of cheese balls. Pregnancy.

German IS suited for these types of people

  • Adventurers - Sure there is a lot of adventure. Just beware of the rules.
  • Hikers.
  • Lovers of nature.
  • Mountain people - The Alps are breathtaking.
  • People who love socks.
  • People who love Christmas.
  • People who don't mind overcast almost every day or cold air that cuts into your soul during the winter.
  • People who love Minnesota.
  • People who people watch.
  • RVer's! I just found out that you can stay at different locations throughout Europe for free for the night instead of campgrounds. We haven't tried it yet, but it's supposedly great. They are called Aires. 
  • People with a schedule and plan. 
  • People who like museums and old churches.
  • People who want to learn more about the holocaust and WWII. 
  • People who like modern architecture.
  • People who like old architecture.
  • People who like history and culture.
  • People who like BEER!!!
  • People who like German food.
  • People who like beautiful countryside with rolling hills, crystal clear lakes, and fairytale castles.

Where should I go if I visit Germany?

Not only does Germany have beautiful cities full of culture, history, architecture, it has the countryside, scenery, and castles like that you would only see in movies. By the way, no German has ever heard of The Sound of Music, so don’t ask. That was filmed in Austria, and even the Austrians don’t know what it is.

 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?
 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?
 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?

In southern Germany, you can enjoy amazing hiking trails in the Allgau or trails that go around lakes and up mountainsides. This would be your place to visit for information on specific trails. Top Trails of Germany. Almost every trail is intersected with a few stops that have great restaurants where you can rest and scarf down a bretzel and guzzle a beer. This is probably my favorite aspects of hiking in Germany. Bordering the mounatins is an area called the Allgau. They have quaint little restaurants in every village where you can get the most incredible cake and coffee. Here is one I recommend in Oberstaufen. Das Blaue Hause. Anything in this area is really picturesque and what I imagine of when I think of Germany. If you go anywhere here you will be more than satisfied. Activities include skiing, sledding, sledding without snow for the summertime, hiking, biking, swimming in lakes, and much more. The best Christmas Markets are in the little mountain towns as well.

 
 Lake Constance. Bodensee. Konstanz. Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?

Lake Constance "The Bodensee"

Another noteworthy place to visit in the summertime is Lake Constance. The Germans call it The Bodensee. It's a great place to travel with kids as there is access to swimming around the entire lake, which is also bordered by Switzerland and Austria. It's not just any lake. You almost feel like you're at the ocean because of its size, but without the sand and salt water. The water is crystal clear, and there are so many great spots that are free, so you can just pack a picnic and relax by the water for the day. Insel Meinau is also a fun day trip when you're at Lake Constance. You can take a ferry from any port to get there and spend the day exploring beautiful unique gardens and their butterfly museum.

 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?

Insel Mainau

 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?
 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?

Grocery stores aside, please go visit Germany. It is a place you won’t ever forget, and if you’re doing an entire European adventure, you will love to get a break from the unorganized chaos of the other countries. Germany is one of the cleanest and well kept. In my biased opinion, southern Germany has a bit more to offer than northern Germany. I would sum up northern Germany to Minnesota except with incredible cities, and you can drive whatever speed you like on the autobahn. Southern Germany is a treasure within itself that offers a variety of adventure as you can see in the pictures.

People who love cities should stick to that, and figure out which ones would best suit your tastes. Every city offers something new and exciting. Some of my favorites are Hamburg, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, and Munich.

People who love hiking, camping, and mountains, shouldn't go north of Lake Constance. That about sums it up!

 

 Is Germany A Place Worth Visiting when I Travel to Europe?

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad Recipe

When we went on our last trip to Elba, we made a sailing trip provided at the harbor about 10 min from our Airbnb. Included on this all day adventure was a delicious meal, cooked by our very own Captain of the sailboat. He was a simple man, from Parma (where Parmesan cheese came from) and cooked us his family recipes, learned from only the best…his Italian mother. It’s not like this was anything complicated or time-consuming, but like all Italian food, it was simple and honestly delicious. It was a fennel salad. In and of itself, fennel has a particular taste that is hard to compliment but paired with the right things; it comes alive.

I am going to show you how to make my version of the salad. His was pretty straightforward, which paired well with our pasta and sauce he made with it. I tried something a little more sustainable as to make it a whole, light, and healthy meal in and of itself.

 Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Fennel Prosciutto and Melon Salad

Inspired by the Captain of the Mediterranean seas.

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Time: 20 min

Salad:

1 fennel stalk

½ green melon, sliced thinly

125 g (about 2 bundles) of Endive salad (This adds a little bitterness to the mix)

150 g Prosciutto

5 sprigs of mint

¼ c walnuts

Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette:

2 tsp walnut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp (or to taste) applew cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp horseradish

1 tbsp crème fresh or mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions 

Slice the fennel, endive, and melon into long thin slices. Layer all the different ingredients on top of one another, and top with walnuts. Drizzle with your vinaigrette and decorate with sprigs of mint. Serve with a dry, crisp white wine. 

 

 

The Best Way to Travel Through Colorado and the Rocky Mountains

 Camping, adventure, travel, rocky mountains, pop up tent, colorado.

Adventure begins with this baby

I can't tell you enough how incredible this trip was. If you're traveling to Colorado and you want to know a little bit about what to do and where to go, then this is your stop. Colorado is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and when it comes to adventure travel, it's your place to go. Not only because you can hide away and not see a single soul for days, but also because there is just so much to do, while not having to spend money at campgrounds, or go where the tourists are. It is our dream to live in one of these suckers for a year and explore the Rocky Mountains, even beyond Colorado, but until we can do that, we had to settle for a sweet little taste by renting one for five days. And the best five days it was!

We started by making arrangements at this place in Denver called Adventure Travel Sports Rental. Disclaimer. It's not cheap. You pay for the rigged up monster you can literally climb rocks with, like ours here, but they also have a bit more modest and less expensive options. We booked about six months in advance, and even that was a bit tricky. I would book as early as you possibly can, especially if it's a summer trip you're planning. You can see all of the amenities on the website for each vehicle, but ours imparticular had everything we needed except food, clothes, etc.

If you're flying in from out of town, Denver would be the city you fly in to. It wouldn't be difficult to take an uber from the airport to their location in Golden, Colorado. If you're driving in, then talk to them about where a good place to leave your car for the duration of your travels. 

First things first when you go on trips like this. What do you bring?

I found it a bit tricky to know how to pack, so I've made a list here for you so you can plan ahead a bit better than I did. 

What to bring for one week- The necessities

Food and Drink

Thanks to all of the quaint little mountain towns along our trip, we were able to stop at various grocery stores along the way, so we weren't too worried about stocking up on every single thing. Our sports vehicle had a fridge, but a small one, so we brought a big cooler to compensate. If you need to make a refreshments stop before you head out towards the mountains, try our one-stop liquor shop, Tipsy's Liquor World. It's quite an attraction with every single version of local beers your heart could desire as well as every other kind of wine or spirit you might want. Water would also be among the important things to get.

Now for the food. We wanted to make our culinary situation as simple as possible, but at the same time, we were trying a vegan diet, so it made things a bit more complicated. We ended up deferring to Hobo meals, aka, various veggies, beans, and whatever you like (even meat and cheese if you're not vegan) wrapped in tin foil and thrown into the hot coals of your campfire to cook. Now, before you plan on having a fire, make sure you check the fire dangers for whatever county you travel to here. With Colorado being as fickle with weather changes as it is, it's likely that something can change from one day to the next. Just be prepared food-wise for something like that. Thankfully we were safe to have fires and made variations of these bad boys the entire trip. I'm going to list off some yummy things you can throw in them to give you a head start.

Hobo Meals for camping

  • potatoes- reg. or sweet
  • red onions
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • eggs
  • italian sausage
  • cheese
  • red/green peppers
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • rice (something you can bring pre-cooked
  • quinoa
  • bulgar (my favorite)

The list could go on. We season with olive or veggie oil, salt, and pepper, then wrap in two layers of tin foil and cook for about 30 min. You can get as fancy or as simple as you want. We loaded all of our cooked ingredients in a giant tortilla, poured some hot sauce on it, and had ourselves an easy and healthy meal along with an ice cold local brewed beer. What is better than that!?

Campfire Breakfasts - Courtesy of our dear friends

  • oatmeal bulk mix (prepared beforehand) - rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, shaved almonds
  • peanut butter
  • honey
  • boiling water

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Add milk if desired.

On this rigged up vehicle, they have everything you need for a fully loaded kitchen, so you can pretty much cook whatever. We also had meals like pasta and sauce or baked potatoes. 

 

Where we went - Our mapped out tour

Our first stop was Mc Cullough Gulch Rd., near Quandary Peak. Quandary Peak is a fourteener, so if you're feeling fit, there is that. We set up camp there for the following two nights. The first day we ventured out to do a hike called McCollough Gulch Trail. It was beautiful but full of tourists. I would say it's worth it if you don't mind other friendly hikers around. This location, in general, was a lot more polulated then we had hoped for. It's just a preference thing, but just so you know the details.

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Our second day in this area, we headed towards Quandary Peak to this sweet spot but weren't quite fit enough to take on that high altitude fourteener. We settled for a smaller hike called Monte Cristo Gulch, where we saw these guys.

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Apparently, there are minerals in the dirt they just can't get enough of. It was entertaining, to say the least, watching goats lick dirt for about two hours while we ate our leftover hobo meals from the night before. I'm not being sarcastic either.

From there we said goodbye to our friends who came along for the first two nights and continued down South through Fairplay, and a little deeper West into the mountains on County Road 22. There was literally NO ONE there (which is what we were looking for) except a bear running at full speed down the road in front of our SUV. Yep, watch out for bears! It's important in Colorado to follow procedures with keeping food up at night, etc. You can find all the information you need on it here. They are typically more afraid of you then you are of them. No grizzlies, thank goodness! Just black and brown bears which are considered fairly safe. Here is a picture of where we stopped for the night, right by a little creek. If we had known about these amazing little hideaway camping spots, we would have probably come here the first two nights and stayed along County Road 22. No one there, and much more to explore, as well as great four-wheeling spots to utilize with the massive rock climber you paid a pretty penny for. 

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From there we decided to do a lot of driving since we wanted to see the mountain ranges down south, into the infamous Sand Dunes. It was quite the trip but was accompanied by an amazing view making up for it. We stopped for a few hours at the Sand Dunes, where we took a little hike and ate some food. It was breathtaking. 

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My husband's main reason for renting this bad boy was to find some key four-wheeling spots and scare the shit out of me while having a little "American adventure." You see, in Germany, that sort of thing is VERBOTEN! In fact, a lot of fun in general, when it comes to adventuring is not allowed there. In essence, this was my husband's way of experiencing a little freedom when it comes to adventure in nature. Following the Sand Dunes, there is a four-wheeling spot that leads you right back up East into the mountains, and it is terrifying. In fact, my husband was even freaked out by certain situations he put us in, not knowing if we would be stuck on our sides in a ditch somewhere no one knew we were. Okay, maybe I'm dramatizing it a bit, but still. This is where we set up camp, again in the middle of nowhere, about one hour up this terrifying trail. That's me clanking wood sticks together to keep the mountain lions away. If you've seen The Parent Trap you will know that I just made a really lame joke.

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That's my "Are you kidding me, I just woke up," face.

The next day we made our way back down, and this was the last obstacle we encountered before swearing to never go up that psychotic four-wheeling trail again. 

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That concludes our amazing adventure in the wild and rugged Rocky Mountains. From here, we headed back to Golden to return the truck! 

This was truly one of the best travel adventures we have ever had. It enabled us to relax at campsites, but at the same time explore, find amazing hiking spots created by an amazing Creator, see new creatures (thankfully not be eaten by them,) and adventure in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Unforgettable.

 

 the best places to visit in colorado - a rocky mountain adventure guide
 best locations fro adventure in colorado.

Where to go in Italy - Elba, an Island worth exploring

 Italy, Elba, vacation, beach vacation.

Where to go in Italy

Elba

Italy has always held a special place in my heart. There's something about it that I can't put my finger on. It doesn't apologize for what it is and that's what makes it so genuine and real. When I'm there, I seem to forget that there is another life waiting for me when I return. I cook and drink wine like an Italian. I relax like an Italian. In a small way, I sort of become Italian, even if I'm only there for a week. The past ten years I have discovered many places in Italy, but this is by far my favorite. Marciana is a town on an Island called Elba. With abundant vegetation and breathtaking beaches, it is my top place to go during the offseason. I haven't been there in high season, but I heard it's hot, crowded, but of course, still fantastic. We happened upon a quaint little area via Airbnb, that is just a 5-minute drive into the hills outside of Marciana Marina, and another 10-minute walk from your car to the house. The hike down to the beach from our place took about 15-minutes and is definitely not for older people or kids under 5. If you're willing to be a little more active on your vacation, it's well worth it. For me, I got my work out in, hiking early mornings on the path ride outside or house, and this little extra journey to the beach helped me justify that giant serving of Gelato and Aperol Spritz I had every night. Here are some pictures of our adventures.

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Take the day and go sailing. The Captain was also a learned cook from Parma, who made us simple pasta and sauce dish with Parmesan, (from Parma of course) a fennel salad, and gave us all the wine we wanted, right on their boat! Another great adventure we have had on a previous trip there was snorkeling with Stefano. A forewarning on this, you won't see an abundance of fish due to, well, lack of fish from over fished seas. The experience was still worth it for me, though.

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We shared the boat with a few other travelers, and the small family of the Captain. Our day consisted of stopping at different bays throughout the day to take a dip in the ocean, as we circled the Island. 

RoamRight cruise travel insurance
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We had our own private beach

Even the rocks were comfortable

It wasn't actually a private beach, but the entirety of our stay we didn't see a single soul, except other boats that would sometimes come in and port for an hour or so. This happened twice.

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We pretended we were Swiss Family Robinson for the week and built ourselves shelter form the sun.

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The best thing about the mediterranean is there hasn't been a shark attack since 1964. No sharks, but plenty of jelly fish! Not deadly. At least the ones we saw. 

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There was a hiking path right outside our door. I discovered all kind of treasures, beaches, and absolutely NO PEOPLE. It was wonderful.

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I love this, only because we did the tourist thing made friends with a few wild cats. I do agree, though. Cats are NOT trustworthy, but I still love them.

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I do recommend bringing  your own wine if you drive there. It's quite expensive on the Island. Local made pasta and sauce, however, is quite affordable and easy to just bring home and make yourself. We stopped at this little gem where the owner makes everything himself.

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We did splurge a little. If you want to call it splurging. An amazing meal for a great price. Bar Monilli was inland, on the top of a slope in Marciana. When you get to this there, don't stop at the first restaurant you see. It will be full of tourists. Keep going deeper and see what you can find. It's worth it! 

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Elba was the Island where Napoleon was exiled, which makes it only proper to have a beer named after him. 

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The freshest gnocchi you will ever eat. I kid you not. Italians don't have to try very hard to make something that is out of this world. 

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The most relaxed you will ever see me. Go to Marciana, Elba! You won't ever forget it.