Category Archives: Food and Beverage

Wine & Dine Your Parents with a Taste of Tuscany

By: Molly Dunn

It’s safe to say you feel like a new person after a few months of studying abroad. You’ve experienced multiple new cultures, eaten foods you’ve never even heard of and managed to direct a taxi driver in a language that isn’t your own. You’ve been away from home for a long time which means you’re starting to miss your parents. Chances are high that not only were your parents missing you too, they were also happy to have an excuse to come to Italy for a visit.

A lot of parents make plans to visit their children abroad around the Thanksgiving time, so I’m writing this as a way to help you prepare. You’re their little globetrotting travel expert now, so you’re obligated to show them a good time! Like any good child, you pull out all the stops.

If you’re in Florence, you’re planning to show off the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo.. Maybe even a family picnic at the Boboli Gardens. But we all know the most important part of this trip for both your parents and you… is food and wine. You’ve got it all planned, pizza at Gusta Pizza, paninis at Pinos or All’antico Vinaio, some gelato at Gelateria dei Neri and you’re definitely taking them for the pear ravioli at La Giostra.

If you’re in Rome, you’re taking them to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain.. Maybe even watching the sunset from the Spanish Steps. The food tour will start with pizza from Dar Poeta in Trastevere, Pane e Salame for a panini near the Trevi and then a stop by the Frigidarium for the best gelato in Rome.

So.much. food… You know what you need to wash it down? Wine.

You know the best place for wine? The Tuscan countryside.
Lucky for you, Bus2alps has you covered. Take your parents on an unforgettable “wine crawl” through Tuscany’s Chianti region on the Taste of Tuscany day trip. Visit two different wineries and enjoy a three course traditional Tuscan lunch all while bonding with your parents in a way only ample amounts of delicious food, wine and relaxation can offer up. Share some incredible views with vineyards in your backdrop, have some of world’s top rated gelato, and they’ll be happy to finish off Christmas shopping with some added generosity. Then you just convince them to ship back a couple bottles (or cases) of wine and truffle oils back to the U.S. to be waiting there when they get back.

Your time abroad has made you grow in ways that you never could have imagined, and your parents will definitely take notice. As the wine flows, your parentals will find inspiration to tell you stories you’ve never heard and stories they never thought of telling you. Like that time your Dad got food poisoning in Ireland or when your Mom backpacked through Eastern Europe for a few weeks with a man named Hans. No matter the story, you will find that your relationship with your parents is on a whole new level.

img_2673

5 Reasons Why Halloween in Dublin Should Be On Your Bucket List

By Molly Dunn

In the spirit of creepy masks, candy corn and pumpkins, Halloween has developed into one of America’s favorite holidays.  Maybe it’s the sea of sugar skulls, and all of the Disney Channel references to Dia de los Muertos that we grew up with, but, we all seem convinced that Halloween began just across the United States border in Mexico.

I have something really spooky to tell you, something shocking, and even maybe a bit terrifying…the real origin lies in a place where not a soul would think to look…Ireland. We all know that the Irish like to party, and we dress up in green every St. Patty’s day to celebrate with the charmingly accented crew, but who knew they also founded Halloween! 

What started as the pagan festival of Samhain, Halloween as know it now, was a Celtic festival of fire meant to ward off evil spirits as summer changed into winter. In time, October 31st developed from the festival of Samhain, to ‘All Hallows Eve’, to Halloween.

So, now that we all know that Halloween originated in Ireland, it’s becoming clear why going to Ireland for Halloween weekend is a must. There are tons of festivals, parties and celebrations on this spooky day. Who could imagine a better place to be than the country’s capital on the spookiest day of the year? Here is a list of 5 things to do in Dublin, this Halloween.

  1. Monsters! Season at Light House Cinema. This year the Bram Stoker Festival has partnered with Light house Cinema, located just across from The Generator Hostel, in Smithfield square, to offer a series of showings of horror classics. Offering €6.50 matinees and €8.00 nighttime showings. Celebrate the monsters of the 30s by means of watching The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and of course, Dracula. Get your tickets in advance here

  1. Bleedin’ Deadly Referred to as ‘Ireland’s freakiest Halloween Event’, experience what is left of the dying street performing art that was once Freak shows. With two shows per night, one at 6:45pm followed by a 9:45pm showing, don’t miss the madness! Buy your tickets online at for €25. For the post show hit up the pub Church for two for one drinks!

  1. Nightmare Plants For €10 visit Dublin’s Botanical Gardens for an ‘immersive performance, told by an ensemble of actors’. Each show is about 30 minutes and brings you face to face with mother natures deadliest creations.  Check out all the details here.

  1. Werewolves Participate in this high energy, high stakes parlor game, any evening of Halloweekend. The concept of this game is simple. There are werewolves among you, a villager was stolen away by them. Now the villagers meet to discuss their strategy, electing a leader. You must be careful as there are werewolves among you, waiting to out number the scared humans. The werewolves aim to subsume the village and it’s survival of the fittest for the villagers. Admission is free but you must get a ticket to participate. Play Friday night at Generator Hostel starting at 7:30pm. Arrive early, grab a drink and get ready to play! Book your tickets here.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-6-13-06-pm

  1. Stokerland Visit this ‘pop-up Victorian fun park’ on Saturday or Sunday, for a ‘gothic gathering of fun and cames’ in St. Patricks Park. Admission is free, get dressed up and feel like a kid again at this family friendly halloween event! Halloween in Dublin should be on everyone’s bucket list, and you have the chance to cross it off early! Visit bramstokerfestival.com to find out more information and events for this Halloween! Whether you attend this ghoulish festival, or parade around Dublin’s incredibly fun Pubs, you can’t go wrong spending Halloween in it’s birthplace, Dublin.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s another reason!  Bus2alps just dropped the Ireland Coast 2 Coast trip to €135 for Halloween weekend…. I can’t think of a better time to go!  

ireland-drop

A Message For Vegetarians Abroad

By: Molly Dunn

You’re about to start your semester abroad, and you’ve finally gotten everything figured out. You’ve picked your city, you’ve chosen between a homestay and an apartment, and you’ve packed your bags. Nothing can go wrong! Oh wait… there’s just this one little issue… You’re a vegetarian and have no idea what you’re going to do about eating. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or just really picky, studying abroad can open up a pandora’s box of problems if you don’t prepare. I’ve been a vegetarian for two years and a pescetarian for one, going abroad definitely has its challenges. Here are some ways to survive abroad as an herbivore:  

  1. Tell your host.

    A lot of schools will ask you to fill out a questionnaire based on your dietary preferences before arriving abroad. This is intended to help prevent that awkward “oh I don’t eat that” exchange on your first night at the dinner table. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. When I arrived abroad my host mom had no idea that I was a vegetarian and quickly scrambled to make enough for me to eat on my first night. Somehow the information from the questionnaire I filled out months prior, never made it to my host mom. After that, she was extremely accommodating to my dietary preferences.
  1. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions.

    My host mom had no idea what to do with a vegetarian. I studied in Spain where Jamón is the ultimate king. One day we sat down together and discussed all of the possible proteins I liked eat. Lentils, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, etc. My host mom was very interested in learning new recipes, I even taught her how to make guacamole. Tofu and tomate frito became my favorite meal and was easy for my host mom to make alongside the carnivorous family meal. You’ll be there for 4 months, don’t be scared to tell your host what you do and do not like. This will save you a lot of painful meals. My first night abroad, we were served octopus that had been put in a microwave. Yeah, she never made that one again.
  1. Be open to trying something new.

    Before I studied in Spain, I had absolutely zero interest in eating fish. I became a vegetarian for health reasons, and I was just really never interested in eating my ocean friends. One day my host mom made an elaborate meal of cod and potatoes. She offered it to me, and I couldn’t say no. Ever since then, I have been a pescetarian. That being said, it’s okay if you are adamant about not eating certain things. I’m going to have to pass on that canned tuna.
  1. Watch your protein intake and take your vitamins.

    Traveling is the perfect time to lose track of your nutritional intake. Those of us who don’t eat meat are prone to iron and protein deficiencies. Protect yourself and make sure you’re taking B12 and Iron, you can find these vitamins at pharmacies all over the world. Coming from someone who has almost been hospitalized for low iron, take your vitamins, you’ll thank me later! For protein make sure you’re eating plenty of eggs and beans daily. Cheese alone does not provide sufficient protein. Carbs rule in countries like Spain and Italy so make sure you’re not getting lost in the sauce.
  1. Bring your favorites with you.

    When I studied abroad I packed tons of peanut butter and protein bars. These staples really helped me stay on track while I was traveling the weekends without my host mom’s maternal eye making sure I was getting the nutrition I needed. My actual mom ended up mailing me my favorite chocolate protein powder from back in the States, just to be sure I was getting all the nutrition I needed.
  1. Do your research.

    Google vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the area of your study abroad city and all of the cities you plan to visit. Websites like Trip Advisor provide tons of info for cities as small as mine, Salamanca. Star them on your google map and see which ones are near where you.  Many of these places have tons of options for every eater. Sometimes it might take a little begging, but your friends will be glad they tried something new, and you’ll be excited to order something other than pasta.

Photo blog: Italy eats

By Nicole Souza

Well known for its pasta, pizza, and gelato, on my spring break, I was lucky enough to travel all throughout Italy through the Bus2alps Best of Italy trip, trying all different sorts of delicious foods. But Italy’s well-known basics aren’t the only things you have to eat when you go. Here’s a gallery of the food-porn of Italy I collected when I traveled to five different cities:

Tuscany

image18 image03 image23image21

Bruschetta and deli meats accompanied my succulent Tuscany wine. The olive oil was definitely the game changer, although the bread alone wasn’t your typical white toast you find in Stop n’ Shop. For our main course, the bolognese was indescribable thick and flavorful. I can never go back to boxed pasta ever again. (Sorry Barilla!)

Rome

image14 image09 image08image20 image07 image06

Margherita pizza, eggplant parmesan, risotto, gnocchi x2 and spaghetti exceeded all expectations. Descriptions and words can’t explain how amazing all of these dishes were. So much tomato sauce. Too few days to consume.

image00 image25 image29 image17

The famous Tony’s welcomed us on our first night of our Bus2alps trip with unlimited wine and water, a ginormous grilled vegetable platter, deli meats with flatbread, fried calamari, penne alle vodka, gnocchi, and tiramisu (unfortunately there is no picture for that because I ate it too fast). After too much bread, oil, pasta, and white wine, (and not enough water) I felt like my stomach was gonna explode, but I wanted to keep eating anyways.

image04 image05 image24image12

Frigidarium had by the far the best gelato in all of Italy. Their signature flavor has cookie crumbles, caramel, and hardened chocolate covering the gelato AND a cookie wafer. I also got to try Kinder Bueno chocolate, macaron, mint chocolate chip, and lemon flavors, all doing wonders for my taste buds.

Florence

image22 image27

Just a couple of ways Florence showed its love for me—and there never went a day where I didn’t eat gelato. Newscafe captured my heart with the little string of hearts in my cappuccino. Gusta was by far the best pizza: I’ve never had crust just chewy and soft enough that it would still easily allow my teeth to rip through the bread. Unfortunately, my stomach was growling, and even though these two works of art were beautiful, I had to dig in and ruin the mesmerizing visuals.

image01 image16 image10Magnum surprised me by allowing me to create this work of art (top). Covered in white chocolate, pink almond stars, rose petals, cookie pieces, then drizzled with milk chocolate, it was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. The grey poppy seed gelato (yes, I said GREY) I tried was so unique tasting. You’ll have to go to Florence to try it for yourself! Eduardo’s vegan almond was surprisingly my second favorite. The walnut and dates was also a nice surprise!

Venice

image13 image15 image11

Dal Moro’s pasta, which was in a Chinese take-out box, was being made right in front of us as we were waiting in line. I went basic and got the Pomodoro Fusilli. The hot basil and tomato sauce was the perfect thing to warm me up on the rainy day we visited. It was so fresh—definitely the best pasta I had in Italy! The sardines and polenta dinner won me over at dinner. Venice is the quintessential place for having the best tasting fish! And of course if there’s a Magnum, there’s more gelato!

Verona

image02 image19 image28

Margherita pizza never failed to satisfy me on my spring break. At our group lunch, I purposely traded my share of penne alle vodka for someone else’s share of pizza! Amorino was a charming gelato store that actually presents its product in the shape of a rose! I tried the orange chocolate chip and condensed milk flavors (again almost too pretty to eat). My friend purposefully chose the strawberry so the petals would look like an actual rose.

While the food in Italy made my taste buds happier, I somehow managed to hold myself back from eating it all until after I took the Insta-worthy photo.

Bon Appetit’s Kitchen Manager Sees the Real Italy: Brad Leone in Rome

By Brad Leone

I started my trip flying into Milan, and the plan was to head south until we hit Rome. I was traveling with Lucini Olive Oil to visit all the estates and orchards they use to make olive oil. It was a trip made in heaven and for 5 days I thought I had just about the best Italian trip one could ask for.

The time came to go home and I was planning to fly out of Rome.  Then it hit me: my good friend Gary, who is a manager for Bus2alps, is living in Rome and is one of the most interesting people I know. It was a no-brainer that I had to stay an extra day and hang with Gary, a guy who could show me the real side of Rome that you can’t just stumble upon.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.55.54 PM

The taxi dropped me off and waiting downstairs was Gary. We dropped my bags off and started to hit the pavement. First stop was one of the best lunches I had in a while: braised rabbit in a lemon and wine broth served with a simple tomato and pasta soup, paired with a ½ liter of red wine, as one does in Rome. This place was the best; I was probably the only one speaking English and you could tell it was the spot where the locals ate. Simple and delicious dishes, the Italians really hit it on the head with less is more as a philosophy; let the ingredients do the talking.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.55.12 PM

From there we walked around and had one of the best espressos I’ve had in a while, if ever (the most expensive one in Rome, Gary told me. $1.25). Both the lunch spot and the espresso were in shops that I probably would have walked right past.

In my experience in traveling, it’s all about having a local with you.  Someone who knows THE spots and the language will always take your traveling experience from a 5 to a 10, and since Gary has worked for Bus2alps in Rome for almost three years, he knew where to go. We walked past the normal tourist spots and stopped in at small little bars for a drink or two. Then, we swung past a skate shop to say hi to some friends and get a jive on the night’s plan. Both of us were ready for some dinner and a shower, so we headed back to clean up.

For dinner we went to another gem that I would have passed and had some pizza and some fried rice balls whose name I can’t remember [editor’s note: suppli], but Gary was right for ordering them. Perfectly crispy and greasy and what I needed for a night out in Rome ahead of us.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 9.31.52 PM

Next stop was a bar right in the heart of Rome. It was still early so we hung around and chatted with a beautiful bartender that Gary knew.  Not for nothing but Gary seemed to know everyone in Rome and I can’t say I was mad about it.  We drank and chatted for a few hours and then a lady came around and offered us wristbands. Turns out the wristbands got us on onto a bus filled with beautiful young people (I kid you not).

The bus brought us to some crazy nightclub where people were waiting on line just to get in as we strolled right past them. Once inside it was people dancing and doing the whole nightclub thing.  Before we knew it, it was 2:30am and my flight back to NYC was right around the corner.

Long story short, I made the flight and even had time to have some tea with ol’ Gary.  I was stoked to see Gary but what we managed to do in the short period of time really blew me away. Now I just have to figure out a way to get back to Rome and get some more of this inside travel treatment.