77. Belgo Centraal, London, England

30 11 2016

Belgian beer in London. Good friends and good times. Great to see Andrew and Alison and eat some chicken and drink some great beers. Our waiter was a nightmare, and that somehow added to the experience. The best beers we had in London (because they were from Belgium…) The wait staff dresses like monks, which seems like it would be corny but it works. Enough of a good time that I didn’t take a photo.  Belgo+Beerologist+pouring+beer.jpg


51. The White Horse Pub, Parsons Green, London, England

30 11 2016

IMG_4919.JPGWe took the tube out to Parsons Green. We met good friends Alison and Andrew for dinner. The service was good and the food was delicious. I was also excited by some of the beer choices – for the first time in London. I went for the standard: fish and chips with mushy pees. Sometimes I wonder about the list and how a place made the cut. This place is a little out of the square mile, and in many ways an average (though slightly better than, and with a decent beer menu) pub. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time and it was a cool little trip out to Parsons Green. We got wine at the store and drank it on the tube on the ride back to our hotel. Like all of London, you can feel the history, and you find yourself looking at the mahogany wood work and wondering who else has sat in the same spot. How does a pub last 300 years in an industry where businesses come and go in months?

30. The Olde Mitre Tavern, Ely Court, Hatton Garden, London, England

30 11 2016

img_4872Good thing for GPS. The Olde Mitre Tavern is down a little alley, and has been in operation since 1546. On approach I was a little nervous we wouldn’t get in, there were so many people drinking beer in the alleyway it was tough to find the door. Interestingly (and very London) the inside wasn’t that crowded. In a city with so little good weather, the locals were taking full advantage of a nice evening. We went inside and had some drinks and pub grub, a bad scotch egg and some equally disappointing pork rinds. The bartender warned us and we got what he said we would, and somehow it seemed appropriate. This is a place to stand and have a pint, and if you’re expecting different, you haven’t quite figured out the “pub” thing yet. My understanding is that the restaurant is quite good, but we were in the bar, which is a bar and not a restaurant. There was no chance of exploring the place, and we never even saw the dining room. The bathroom was a walk down a twisty alley crammed with people. All in all, it was awesome and I wouldn’t trade the experience. This is a proper pub, wood floors, leather chairs, hidden in an alley and populated with locals. Well worth a visit and I’ll return if I’m in London again.

14. The Market Porter, Stoney Street, London, England

30 11 2016

img_4911We woke up and went over to the Borough Market for breakfast. The market itself has been operating in the same place for over a thousand years, which really kind of puts things into perspective. The glass roof juxtaposes with thefeeling of age and tradition. Everywhere you look there’s something cool you want to eat, the vendors have giant stacks of bread or a big simmering pot of curry. There are meat pies, charcuterie, juice stalls, oysters, cheeses, pastries, etc. If you make it, come hungry because there’s something around every turn. London is known for being expensive, but the market seems like a deal.

We were at the Market Porter when they opened. I want to like English beer, and I spent the whole time in London trying to find one I would remember as good. I never had one. I’m a beer amateur. I like those cloudy double IPA’s you have to stand in line for. I like to collect styles of beer on my corny beer app, but mostly want them all to taste like slightly different versions of the same stuff. I had no luck in England and while The Market Porter has been around way too long for my opinion to matter, I wasn’t too excited. That being said, like many places on the list, the pub brought me to the market, and in many ways London, so it’s a win and worth a visit. img_4912

75. Mr. Sancho’s Beach, Cozumel, Mexico

23 01 2015

*Disclaimer: This post sounds really grumpy. Sorry about that. It’s not as grumpy as it sounds – we had a good time and I’m thankful to be able to do trips like this. This is just overtired, sunburned guy sitting on a too-long bus trip after a long day. It is what it is – so I’m not going back to edit it.


Ok, my fault for booking from a place with “discount” in the name, but companies like this one are the reason people hate vacations. We got picked up at our hotel at 7:15, and by 8:15 we were on our second tour bus, having traveled 5 miles in the wrong direction and been left in a market for 45 minutes with the apology that we didn’t have time to shop. At 8:20 we were driving past our hotel – presumably headed to the 10am ferry an hours drive away, which would take us to Cozumel where we would check another one off the list. There are different ways to travel, and our stay at the Paradisus is pretty high up on my luxury scale. They’ve got the resort thing nailed, the food is good, the staff is well trained, the facilities are nice. It may only be a five minute drive, but the Paradisus is about as far from sombrero selling downtown Cancun as you can get. We signed up for this.

Do you know they make telescoping cell phone handles so you can take pictures of yourself easier? That’s right, Generation Y, whose only contributions to this earth are “twerking” and the “selfie,” has necessitated the invention of the first cell phone accessory since those lame blue tooth ear pieces. Have fun looking at yourselves kids!

We arrived in Playa Del Carmen and did the “stand over here, ok, now stand over here” until the ferry was ready to leave. After seeing the rusted scaffolding holding up the construction of the ferry terminal my idea of O&P Glass Mexico Division went away. Fatalities are not good business practice for a US based company. Go OSHA!

Windows going right up there guys, climb on!

Windows going right up there guys, climb on!

The ferry was a little anticlimactic, just 45 minutes of sitting on a bus that drives in the water. Not sure if I was expecting a dolphin escort or sea spray tickling my face but we got a view of the back of a seat and a ride to Cozumel. Fair enough, at least there was a bar.

Landing in Cozumel was exactly as expected. We hopped a cab to Ernesto’s, where I’d already rented a jeep. The jeep was fine but more of what you’d expect. No seat belts, the gauges didn’t work, but it started right up and we were on our way. 12 kilometers later we arrived at our destination: Mr. Sancho’s. They had two hustles going, all inclusive and a la carte, with a rope separating the two areas so you could always see how the other half was living. We opted for a la carte, tough to eat and drink $55 worth of stuff each and still make it back for the 4pm ferry. Jen had some fish tacos and I had a burger. Categorically inoffensive but also unremarkable. What do you expect? I haven’t seen a cow in a while and this isn’t exactly a five star restaurant. The place was cool, with huge inflatable water toys, a few pools, and lots of cruise shippers. They were doing temporary tattoos, and there was a guy in his 60’s getting one (?). They also had those gross pools where you put your feet in and some desperate fish come eat your dead gross foot skin. Also full display massages. I was shocked not to see anyone getting their hair braided. We wandered down to the water and heard some college kids discussing the best practices for getting strong drinks while on vacation. Lessons learned – and no kid to use as an excuse to play on the water toys, we decided to leave. Back in the jeep to complete the lap of the island along with the thousand other people with the same idea. This is not my kind of travel. Completely made for tourist everything without a hint of any real culture to be found. The culture IS tourism. It’s ok, the people are lovely and the weather is amazing, but I’d prefer to either be immersed in a different culture or at the resort not trying to pretend the iguana is from Cozumel or that anyone really wears those drug rugs. Save the squawking, I’m probably not buying anything. BUT that’s just me. Lots of people pay top dollar for this stuff, it’s Disney with less shine but totally safe, dependable and non threatening for the average Packers fan. And why not? It’s a little too Vegas for me, where everything is plastic or fiberglass and the national currency is whatever you got.

The worst job in Mexico.

The worst job in Mexico.

We dropped off the jeep, where the non working gauges caused some bad noise. Homey wanted $20 because I returned it “full” and when I picked it up it was “very very full.” Obnoxious because we hadn’t driven 5 blocks from the gas station where we’d filled it up. I took a photo and showed it to the guy, and he explained that it must have changed. Amazing what mentioning Trip Advisor will do for someone’s honesty. Just to prove my non douchey-tourist-making-a-big-deal-out-of-nothing status I’m including the photo. Anyway, five minutes of useless argument we came to the agreement that the gas tank was as full as it has to be and we left.

Full, but not Very Very Full.

Full, but not Very Very Full.

Phew! Back to the mainland on the cattle boat. I don’t mean to be negative. This excursion sucked, but that was my fault. Don’t go to the carnival and be mad there’s a midway. I’m glad we went, because it’s another one of the list, and Jen liked the jeep loop, but I won’t be back. Might be a little better if you stop on a cruise ship, since you won’t have the three hour trip to get one hour down the road thing.

This list is good. It’s made me do things I wouldn’t do otherwise. If not for the list we wouldn’t have come to Cancun, and we wouldn’t have had the great experience of staying at a beautiful resort.

I should also mention for posterity that this is the first trip we’ve been on since we had our son Xavier. We originally were going to take him, but my mom encouraged us to leave him with her. It was hard, but good for us to get away for a couple days. Words can not describe how excited we are to see the little guy when we get back, and we’ll be energized to pick up where we left off. There is nothing for little X in Cancun except sunburn and tired parents, but for Jen and I it was a chance to reconnect and have some conversations that don’t revolve around diapers or sleep schedules. He’ll be 5 months old when we return tomorrow!


72. Au General Lafayette, Paris, France

15 11 2014


Obviously this post is way late. I kinda thought I’d written it already. I bought Foof a trip to Paris for Christmas, and our good friends Todd and Katie came along. We did Paris right, dinner at the Eiffel Tower, rented scooters, ate snails, rode around on bikes, had awesome cocktails at the Curio Parlor, and beers at Au General Lafayette. I ordered raw beef, and I got a raw hamburger patty. Yes, I ate it. This beer list has taken us to some really fun places, and it’s way more fun now to travel as a grown up than it was when I was young and broke. This trip is going to be a tough one to beat…

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45. Selin’s Grove Brewing, Selinsgrove, PA

14 11 2014

IMG_0956Restaurant in the basement of an inn. Good food, it was kind of a weird vibe the night we were there. I kind of feel like I was missing something. Food was good, beer was exceptional, but I couldn’t figure out what we were doing in this little town in the middle of Pennsylvania. If you happen to be in the neighborhood I would definitely recommend it, but so much of the stuff on this list is world class this one seemed a little odd. I guess a lot are, but to be #45… Like I said, maybe I missed something. People seem to love it, and we did too, but I think probably it was just a little too far out of the way…