Buffalo, NY

One of the many great things about road trips is the food you can find along your way. Some of it is totally random. And then there are places which are obviously known for a certain kind of food. Buffalo, NY is one of those places. Birthplace of the chicken wing. I'm originally from NY, so naturally have a deep appreciation for the chicken wing. Now living out in San Diego, it's hard to find a proper wing. So while traveling through western NY, I thought it only fitting to try the best. I'd never been to Buffalo before, and it seemed like a good enough excuse? Buffalo itself was a pretty cool place. Has a very "neighborhood" feel to it. Like everything is friendly and local. The outskirts though, were much different. Lots of deserted old factories. Great for shooting. And had it not been for the chicken wing, I never would have stumbled on this scene. Sometimes it pays to eat. 

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Rob Hammer


Istanbul, Turkey

It's been a about a month since we left Istanbul, and I still can't make any sense of it. Not sure there is any point in trying either? Don't take that as a negative thing though. I couldn't be any happier that I went, but it's an exhausting place if you do it right. Istanbul is a city that never stops moving. With the exception of a few wee hours, the Turks are always hustling. And as a 6'5" American, I was a victim of that hustle. It's hard to knock it, but after a while, it definitely gets old. Rather than make myself look like an idiot by trying to describe Istanbul, here are some random thoughts on things that really stand out: 

  1. Religion (Muslim) is bigger then anything else in the city
  2. The Muslim's are unapologetic about shoving their religion down your throat
  3. The "Call to Prayer" is played 5 times a day throughout the entire city and every town in Turkey. If you don't know what the Call to Prayer is, Google it
  4. Turkish Coffee and Tea are a big thing. Wherever you look, the men are drinking it together on little stools. Not chairs. Stools
  5. Turkish woman rarely leave their homes. And if they do, it's to buy groceries 
  6. "Turkish Delight" is no joke. Before going to Turkey, I thought it was just a saying. It's not
  7.  Turkey knows how to do Tomatoes. If you have a meal with tomatoes in it, chances are, that meal will be great
  8. Almost all of the street food is delicious 
  9. The Mosque's scattered throughout the city are extremely impressive. Especially when you see all the detail up-close
  10. They are even more impressive when you realize that they were built in the 16th Century
  11. There are building in Istanbul dating back to the 5th Century
  12. Istanbul is awesome

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Rob Hammer


Dubrovnik, Croatia

I'm not going to say Dubrovnik is the best place I've ever been, but it's pretty damn solid. A lot of you nerds might recognize it as a filming location for Game of Thrones. I've personally never watched it, nor do I see that happening anytime in the near future. Anyway, Dubrovnik. Loved it. Out of all the towns we visited in Europe last month, this has to be at least tied with the tops. Had we been there a few months earlier, it probably would have been crawling with tourists?  So mid October was a great choice. Our apartment was actually inside the walls of "Old Town", which made the experience that much better. Old Town was built some time in the 15th century, which you can probably tell from the pictures. It's an extremely unique town. Plenty to do, or not. Walking on top of the walls gives you a great view. And exploring the many alleys gives you a more intimate feel for how the city operates. There are no cars allowed inside the walls, so all the residents and business owners have to hump everything in. That includes any kind of construction materials or food supplies for restaurants. Speaking of, the meals were fantastic. Being on the Adriatic, you expect the seafood to be good. Well it was better then good. Never in my life have I eaten a better piece of swordfish. Don't think I even had to chew it.There really isn't much not to like about Dubrovnik. Very authentic, which is all you can ask for. 

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Rob Hammer

Venice, Italy

When a local in Rovinj, Croatia told us we were only a 2.5 hour car ride from Venice, we had no choice but to go. You just don't turn down that opportunity. So we woke up early one morning and did it. Crossing the border couldn't be easier. And from Rovinj, you actually go through the country of Slovenia as well. Which in all honesty, I didn't even know existed. Anyway, if you stay off the highway, the drive takes you right through Italian wine country. So yeah, you'll never forget the ride. The kind of country where you see old houses completely covered in vines. Postcard kind of thing. Then you park and take a boat out to Venice, and have no choice but be impressed. The city is made up of 118 islands, that are seperated by canals, and linked by bridges. Just thinking about how the place was built, blows my mind. Seeing all this beauty comes at a price though. And that's dealing with boat loads of tourists, literally. There were 5 cruise ships in the Venice harbor when we pulled in. 5 cruise ships! That many idiots packed into one place sorta takes away from all the romance that is Venice. Deal with it for a few hours though, they all get back on the boat, and Venice becomes a different city. Much more intimate. There are so many layers, that keep un-peeling the more you explore. And in my opinion, everything gets better the farther you get away from the Grand Canal. Which in itself is undeniably impressive, but there is so much more to offer elsewhere. I probably don't need to bother saying that you'll find tons of good food and wine in Venice? My only regret is not having more time here. Guess we'll just have to go back. 

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Rob Hammer

 

Rovinj, Croatia

It's hard not to fall in love with Croatia. The more you explore, the better it gets. We drove from Dubrovnik, all the way up the coast of the Adriatic Sea, to Rovinj. And even if there was no Rovinj, the ride itself could have been the payoff. The coastline alone is gorgeous. And the seemingly never ending chain of islands is just icing on the cake. That route should be a requirement for everyone visiting Croatia. With the exception of a few small towns, It's completely desolate, with nothing to do but enjoy the view. 

Then there is Rovinj. Right away you know it's a different place because people are speaking Italian. Turns out there are actually two official languages in Rovinj, Croatian and Italian. Which means you know there is going to be great food. Hence the reason why Anthony Bourdain is such a big fan. Do yourself a favor and get your grub on in at least one of the places he visited. You won't be disappointed. It general, it didn't seem like you could go wrong with the food, just by snooping around a little. We went out to Giannino's one night and let the waiter bring us whatever he wanted for every course. And he was on point with everything from the apps to the limoncello.  

Side note: Rovinj is located on the Istrian Peninsula, which is known for their truffles. So this is the place to get them, it that's your thing. They have it all. Straight truffles. Truffle cheese. Truffle meat. Truffle oil. Truffle Vodka. Etc. 

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Rob Hammer