Budget-friendly hotel in Bruges: Hotel Fevery

This hotel is awesome and just off the beaten path in Bruges.  Paul, the owner, is super friendly in a reserved, endearing, European way.  The breakfasts are tasty and served in a cozy room.  The hotel is "green" so the water pressure isn't great, but that's what you should expect in an ecohotel.  Apart from the service, the best part about this hotel is the price.  We got a 2-room suite (with a shared bathroom) for 250 euros (the two-night total!)  I'm sure it's higher in the summer, but this was my second trip to Bruges in March and winter is a magical time to visit Bruges.

Also, there is a direct bus you can take here from the Bruges train station.  It is a short walk from the bus stop and a lot cheaper than a taxi.


Food Tour and Underground Tour in Naples, Italy

I've written about my positive experiences with food tours here and here. When I was in Naples, Italy, I was hopeful to find something of similar caliber. There was not as much choice or competition as I found in other European cities, but I eventually settled on "Eat in Italy Food Tours". My guide, Simone, met me in the waterfront district of Chiaia, which was where our tour would take place. As it was last-minute, I ended up being the only person on the tour and overall, it was enjoyable. The culinary highlight was a visit to a restaurant for eggplant parmesan. While the caprese salad left a bit to be desired (the tomatoes were unripe), the eggplant parmesan was everything I love about the dish- it was meaty and the slow-cooked sauce had a very mellow flavor.
A historic coffee shop displaying coffee makers from various eras!
A walk in a garden

Wine tasting of Campanian wines
A simple but tasty pasta
The tour culminated in a visit to the "Naples Underground" or Napoli Sottterranea which provided a respite from the sticky summer heat. Deep under the chaotic bustle of the city lies an extensive underground "city" of tunnels and rooms built from volcanic rock and ash, also known as tufo. It has existed since Neapolis was founded by the Greeks around 470 B.C. Over time, it was used for various purposes including underground aqueducts, Christian burial grounds, garbage dumps, and finally as a bomb shelter in World War II.

Disclosure: this is not for the claustrophobic. Some of the tunnels we went through were extremely narrow. (It is similar to the Catacombs of Appian Way, if not more narrow.)

A chilling scene of a room frozen in time from WWII, including a child's rocking horse.

This underground city represented everything I loved about Naples, particularly the immense history that included both optimistic and very dark periods of history. I can't recommend this tour enough.