Best Of Bilbao! ad hoc Cascanueces Restaurant

Tomates de Lodosa
Tomates de Lodosa.  ad hoc Cascanueces.  Bilbao, Spain.

 

Heros 21, 48009 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain

http://adhocbilbao.com/cascanueces/

Less than a 10 minute walk from the Guggenheim Museum, ad hoc Cascanueces consistently delivers one of most memorable dining experiences in Bilbao.

Chef Diego Valdivielso and sommelier Oscar Vila’s customer service and attentiveness is based in the belief that the best wine “is not necessarily the most expensive, but the one that is shared”.

Some of the better known dishes at ad hoc Cascanueces include Japanese pasta with lacquered bacon, octopus and spicy mayonnaise, scorpionfish with wild rice, and red tuna tatami.  The dessert known as Postre Bosque Dulce (sweet forest dessert) is smash hit with diners.

ad hoc Cascanueces (Cascanueces = “Nutcracker” in English) is consistently one of the highest rated restaurants in Bilbao.

Travelers will find presentation of all dishes in fluent English when desired.

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Postre Bosque Dulce (sweet forest dessert). ad hoc Cascanueces
Ad Hoc Cascanueces
ad hoc Cascanueces. Bilbao, Spain.
Tataki de atun rojo
Tataki de atun rojo (tuna tataki).  ad hoc Cascanueces
Picanha brasileña
Picanha Brasilena.  ad hoc Cascanueces

Photo credit: ad hoc Cascanueces

 

 

Breathtaking Views in Bilbao, Spain! Gran Hotel Domine

 

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Only hotel in Bilbao overlooking the Guggenheim Museum.  Gran Hotel Domine.

 

Mazarredo Zumarkalea, 61, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

http://www.hoteldominebilbao.com

Gran Hotel Domine commands one of the best possible locations in Bilbao.  Just a 15 minute drive from the airport, guests will stay at the only hotel in Bilbao overlooking the Guggenheim Museum and the famous giant Puppy topiary.

Gran Hotel Domine is surrounded by world-class views, and its’ interior is designed to match.  From the street view, to its’ restaurants, rooms, and bars, Domine keeps aesthetics at a high level throughout.

The Gran Hotel Domine experience is also crafted to match, with widely-known excellent customer service, rooftop terrance breakfasts, and highest-tech gym equipment.

Guests can choose from Premier, Deluxe, and Superior rooms; all well-appointed.  Note that Gran Hotel Domine enjoyed a complete renovation in 2017, stepping up the already high-level experience.

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Atrium. Gran Hotel Domine, Bilbao, Spain
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Deluxe Suite. Grand Hotel Domine
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Bathroom, Premier Guggenheim Suite.  Gran Hotel Domine.
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Superior City View Room.  Grand Hotel Domine.
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Rooftop terrace overlooking the Guggenheim. Gran Hotel Domine.
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Dinner at Beltz the Black Restaurant at Gran Hotel Domine, Bilbao.
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Exercise with a view of the Guggenheim.  Gran Hotel Domine.
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Street level restaurant across from the Puppy topiary.  Le Cafe.  Gran Hotel Domine.
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Street View.  Gran Hotel Domine.

Photo credit: Gran Hotel Domine

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Relax and Rejuvenate: Blue Lagoon, Iceland

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Become part of a natural wonder: Blue Lagoon, Iceland

240 Grindavík, Iceland

http://www.bluelagoon.com

The rejuvenating, relaxing geothermal waters of Blue Lagoon, Iceland are among the top spa destinations in the world.  And the view here is amazing.

Waters at the Blue Lagoon stay around 100F, and naturally renew themselves every 40 hours.   The water is just 4.5 feet / 1.4 meters at the deepest point.

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Rejuvenation at Blue Lagoon, Iceland
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Visit year-round: Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Located 30 miles / 47 km southwest of Reyjavik, the Blue Lagoon is supported by an on-site spa, hotel, and restaurant to supplement the experience.

Upon arrival, visitors are equipped with a wristband, which works like a locker key and credit card.  Very handy for keeping track of your things, and buying drinks while in the water.

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Surrounding campus of Blue Lagoon, Iceland

There are a few things to keep in mind while visiting Blue Lagoon, such as staying hydrated, removing jewelry, and proper use of conditioner.  A video with the best tips can be found here: YouTube guide to visiting Blue Lagoon

Note that the staff supporting the Blue Lagoon are known for keeping an incredibly clean  facility.  Pre-booking is required.

 

Photo Credit: Blue Lagoon, Iceland.

 

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The 5 Million Star Hotel, Iceland

 

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Stay outdoors while being indoors.  The 5 Million Star Hotel, Iceland.

Hrosshagi 2, Skalholt 801, Iceland

https://www.buubble.com

The 5 Million Star Hotel offers just that: a clear and amazing view of 5 million stars and the aurora borealis. Less than one hour drive east from Reykjavic, guests stay outdoors – and simultaneously indoors – inside one of five heated bubbles nestled in the forest.

Each bubble fits two adults, with a huge bed with an unbeatable view of the sky and forest.  A nearby, centrally located shared services area has the well-appointed shower and kitchen facilities.  Each bubble is equipped with electrical outlets so guest iPhones stay well-charged.

One of the most unique and rewarding experiences in Iceland – the 5 Million Star Hotel.

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Choose from five bubbles: Una, Asta, Thorunn, Valdis, or Maria.

 

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Unbeatable views of the sky and forest.  The 5 Million Star Hotel, Iceland.

Photo Credit: 5 Million Star Hotel

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Frost and Fire Hotel, Iceland

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Along the river Varma.  Frost and Fire Hotel, Iceland.

 

Hverhamar, 810 Hveragerði, Iceland

http://www.frostogfuni.is

Located 30 miles east from Reykjavic on Route 1/Ring Road, Frost and Fire Hotel is home base for Iceland experience seekers.

Guests can choose from salmon fishing (with fishing permits sold at reception), snorkeling in nearby clear waters, Icelandic horse riding, Jeep tours, and several different difficulty levels of mountain biking – all close by Frost and Fire.

Rooms range from $168 to $510 per night.  Guests can choose from single, double, and even family size rooms.

The on-site restaurant Varma specializes in the Iceland slow food concept (small scale local producers and farmers), with views overlooking the river.

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Nighttime views. Frost and Fire Hotel, Iceland.
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Guest room.  Frost and Fire Hotel, Iceland.

 

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Late Night Paris Highlight: Octopussy Bar

Octopussy Bar, Paris
rock and roll at Octopussy Bar, Paris

Octopussy, Paris

22 Rue de La Jonquière

75017 Paris

Metro: Guy Môquet, line 13

Hours: Monday to Friday 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM, Saturday 3:00 PM to 2:00 AM. Closed Sunday.

www.octopussyparis.com

For an utterly interesting late night whiskey and beer, head to Octopussy bar in the 18th arrondissement.

Open since mid-2014, Octopussy is known for events such as blind taste tests, clothing exchanges, oyster tastings and more.  These occasions fit with the overall rock-and-roll vibe of the place.  Live bands also stop by.

Octopussy is also a great place to catch a rugby match on TV, and even just relax in the comfy lounge upstairs.

Octopus decor is all around but not overwhelming – check out the octopus lights and octopus tip jar at the bar.

Octopussy Bar, Paris
street view of Octopussy Bar, Paris
Octopussy Bar, Paris
menu at Octopussy Bar, Paris

Photos courtesy Octopussy, Paris

Living In Munich: A Cost Comparison

money and Munich
money and Munich

The words “affordable” and “Munich” don’t usually come in the same sentence. Munich is known as the most expensive city in Germany, and often on the list of most expensive cities in the world. But let’s take a look at some details:

For starters, Germany has the lowest unemployment rate of any member of the European Union. Better yet, Munich has the lowest unemployment rate in Germany, boasting 2.6% (source: Eurostat, the European Union statistics office). Other major German cities, such as Berlin, unemployment rates as high as 10.9%.

This foundation gives folks in Munich a much better shot at finding a job, and therefore having income to afford Munich in the first place. This employment rate foundation is actually even better than the United States, which has an unemployment rate of 6.1%.

There is comfort with large companies headquartered in Munich as well. BMW, MTU Aero Engines, Siemens and Allianz are all headquartered in Germany, as is Augustiner Brau, which brews the areas most popular beer. Amazon, Google, Merck, and Kraft also have subsidiary offices in Munich.

For more of a comfort level, it is good to know that, in expat-speak, Munich is ranked as a “low hardship” location. This means that new residents from the United States, for example, won’t experience much culture shock in terms of political, education, or city infrastructure differences in Munich. From this standpoint, Munich is more “affordable” than other global cities that may require a bigger lifestyle adjustment.

So, now let’s look at major expenditures of housing, transporation, and health care:

First, housing is going to be expensive, but not out of reach. A smaller one-room apartment in Munich can be gained for about $9,000 U.S. per year, and a larger four room apartment will be around $23,000 U.S. per year. For comparison, the average U.S. housing spend is $17,000 U.S per year. So, depending on how much space you need, Munich housing may be affordable enough.

Second: transportation. It costs about $9,000 U.S. per year to own one car in the United States. This includes the car payment, insurance, and gas. With most families owning two cars, that’s a transportation expense of $18,000 per year. In contrast, Munich offers an extensive public transport system, for which you can get a pass for about $750 U.S. per year, or $1,500 U.S. per year for two people. That’s a huge savings. This makes up for the higher housing costs in Munich.

Third is health care. For a baseline, U.S. persons spend an average of $3,600 U.S. per year on health care. In Munich, it’s going to be more. It will be either A) $5,200 for public healthcare, if you make less than $65,000 U.S. per year, or B) higher than that for private healthcare, where the premium will depend on your risk.

When weighing housing, transportation, and healthcare together, you’ll see that Munich becomes more competitive against the U.S. average. Of course, this all depends on your personal situation and family, and standard of living. Just don’t rule out Munich without some research. It may be more affordable than you think.