Go See Do Explore

Welcome to the Go See Do Explore Podcast, your portal to the world’s most captivating travel. From quaint cafés nestled in Europe’s heart to the serene underwater world of coral reefs, every episode with hosts Ashleigh and Christopher is a journey into the unique and unforgettable. Our adventures take you beyond the typical, exploring local cultures, savoring regional culinary delights, and uncovering hidden gems that make each destination special. Join us on this journey. Let’s Go See, Do, and Explore together.

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Episodes

2 days ago

Ep 17: Sicily & Naples
In this episode, hosts Christopher and Ashleigh recap their time in Sicily and Naples during their trip to Italy.
Sicily
Some highlights from Sicily:
They picked up a rental car in Catania which ended up being a larger SUV, making driving on narrow roads a challenge
They stayed near the towns of Aci Castello and Aci Trezza on the Mediterranean coast
They visited wineries on Mount Etna known for wines with volcanic minerality
The beaches were rocky due to the volcanic landscape
They saw the impressive Norman castle in Aci Castello built into the volcanic rock
Food highlights included pistachio everything, fried rice balls called arancini, fish dishes, and stuffed pizza unique to the region
They took a day trip to Taormina, a popular resort town with beautiful vistas and medieval architecture
Hiking Mount Etna and seeing the active craters was a highlight
Naples
In Naples, they experienced:
Very crowded streets and a chaotic energy typical of the city
Walking tours of historic churches and areas like the Spanish Quarter
A pizza making class with a chef named Danielle where they learned techniques and enjoyed delicious appetizers
Tasting fresh San Marzano tomatoes, a key ingredient in Neapolitan pizza
Indulging in the cuoppo, a cone of mixed fried treats
Visiting the archaeological site of Pompeii and seeing a city frozen in time from 79 A.D.
Overall, Ashleigh and Christopher found Naples to be one of their favorite destinations in Italy with incredible food, fascinating history, and an authentic energy.
Wine Break
They sampled Juculano, a light, floral sparkling Catarratto wine from Sicily that perfectly embodied the island. Christopher provided background on the IGT designation in Italy and why it allows for expressive winemaking.

Friday Jul 05, 2024

Italian Trains & Budget Transatlantic Flights
Travelers Christopher and Ashleigh introduce a new series of episodes detailing their recent 2.5 week trip to Italy. They start in Sicily and make their way north to Venice.
Getting Around Italy
The hosts took the train for transportation between cities in Italy. They found it convenient, inexpensive, and easy to book directly through the Italian train company, Trenitalia. Tips for booking:
Search city names in Italian
Understand the class of fare and refundability are separate options
Aim for Premium or Business class if traveling with luggage
They also discuss options for overnight trains and compare the sleeper cabins.
Flying to Italy on Budget Airlines
To get to Italy from the US on a budget, the hosts flew Spirit Airlines to New York, then connected to Paris on Norse Atlantic and then to Sicily on EasyJet. On the way back they flew EasyJet, French Bee, and United. Key discussion points:
Comparing premium economy on Norwegian vs French Bee
The convenience of a long Paris layover to see the city
Thoughts on Spirit, EasyJet, and bus gates
Overall they found budget airlines can offer more comfort with significant savings if you're flexible.
Brief Stopover in Paris
During their layover in Paris, the hosts walked 25,000 steps to see sights like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Much of the city was blocked off for Olympics preparation. They recommend getting a Metro ticket on your phone and having the latest OS version.
"Until next time, keep exploring, keep dreaming, and keep traveling by any means necessary."

Money Saving Tips

Saturday Jun 29, 2024

Saturday Jun 29, 2024

Ep 15: Money Saving Tips
In this episode, Ashleigh and Christopher share their best tips for saving money while traveling so you can keep exploring the world without breaking the bank.
Be Flexible With Dates and Destinations
Don't get your heart set on one destination or timeframe. Being flexible allows you to find the best deals and values.
"We usually have a couple of places in mind...and a range of dates in mind. And we do some combination of airfare searching, hotel searching...to really zero in on the right place and the right time."
Use Patience When Booking Flights
Airfare fluctuates a lot. Watch prices and pull the trigger when the time is right instead of impulse booking.
"Just do some searching and know what you should expect to pay for that route for those dates."
Consider Alternative Accommodations
Vacation rentals through sites like Airbnb can save you money compared to hotels, especially for groups.
"We've had lots of great experiences in rentals and other kinds of non-traditional situations."
Read the Fine Print on Fees
Factor in all airline fees, hotel fees, etc. when comparison shopping to understand the real total cost.
Wine Break: Pignoletto from Emilia-Romagna
Pignoletto is a white wine grape native to the area around Bologna. It was recently discovered through DNA profiling to be the same grape as the Grechetto!
Rethink Rental Cars
In big cities, rental cars can be more hassle than they're worth. Consider public transit, walking, and ride shares instead.
Pack Light
Packing carry-on only saves money on fees and reduces the hassle of schlepping big bags around.
Consider Camping
Camping can put you steps away from destinations at a fraction of hotel prices. If you don't have camping gear, consider renting it from REI or borrowing from a friend or neighbor.
"We pay $35 a night instead of $350 a night in high season."
Take a Cruise
Cruises can be very cost-effective ways to see multiple destinations in one trip.
Set a Budget
Determine an overall budget and daily spending budget to understand costs and avoid overspending.
Key West, Florida
Key West is a historic and beautiful island destination with Hemingway and Truman history, beaches, and amazing seafood and Cuban food.
"It holds a special place in our heart and I would love to go back."

Top Ten Travel Meals

Friday Jun 21, 2024

Friday Jun 21, 2024

Ep 14: Top Ten Travel Meals
In this episode, hosts Ashleigh and Christopher share their top 10 favorite meals from all their travels. They each countdown their personal top 5, and also discuss some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the top 10 list.
Ashleigh's #1 - Jäger Schnitzel at Auslander in Fredericksburg, TX
Ashleigh's #1 pick is the Jäger schnitzel at Oslander, a German restaurant in Fredericksburg, TX. She describes it as pork schnitzel covered in a hunter style bacon and mushroom red wine sauce. She says it's one of the best things she's ever eaten.
Christopher's #1 - Lolita in Boston, MA
Christopher's #1 pick is Lolita, a modern Mexican restaurant in Boston. He talks about the fun atmosphere, good food and drinks like the complimentary granita they bring you.
Ashleigh's #2 - Ramen Tatsuya in Austin, TX
Ashleigh's #2 pick is Ramen Tatsuya in Austin, TX. She says it was her first time having real ramen, and it's still the best she's ever had. She describes the rainy day they went there when visiting Austin.
Christopher's #2 - La Parrilla at the Kiosks in Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Christopher's #2 pick is La Parrilla, a restaurant located at the Kiosks in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. He describes the outdoor food stall setting right on the beach. La Patrona had great Puerto Rican food like mofongo and other dishes served in pineapples.
Ashleigh's #3 - Ponto Final in Lisbon, Portugal
Ashleigh's #3 pick is Ponto Final, a restaurant in Lisbon located right on the Tagus River with views of the 25 de Abril Bridge. She made a reservation there for her birthday. The seafood was great but the ambiance is what really made it memorable.
Christopher's #3 - Japadog in Vancouver, Canada
Christopher's #3 pick is Japadog in Vancouver, which serves Japanese-inspired hot dogs. He explains the fusion of Japanese flavors on hot dogs, and how it was started by Japanese immigrants to Vancouver. They went there because of a reference to it on the TV show Psych.
Wine Break
They take a break to talk about the Carignan wine from Texas they are drinking. They discuss the warm weather appropriateness of certain lighter red wines.
Ashleigh's #4 - Monteverde in Chicago, IL
Ashleigh's #4 pick is Monteverde, an Italian restaurant in Chicago. She raves about the in-house made pastas and pistachio pesto gnocchi. She mentions it's hard to get a reservation there.
Christopher's #4 - Terry Black's BBQ in Austin, TX
Christopher's #4 pick is Terry Black's BBQ in Austin. He talks about their delicious brisket and sides like mac and cheese. It's one of their go-to spots whenever they visit Austin.
Ashleigh's #5 - Ja Se Sabe in Furnas, Azores
Ashleigh's #5 pick is Ja Se Sabe, a restaurant in Furnas, Azores where they cook traditional stews in the volcanic thermal springs. She describes the incredible experience of eating there after touring the hot springs.
Christopher's #5 - Suerte in Austin, TX
Christopher's #5 pick is Suerte in Austin. He describes it as Mexican-inspired but with its own modern twist. He mentions dishes like pistachio guacamole that demonstrate the clever fusion going on there.
Honorable Mentions
They discuss some other favorites that didn't quite crack the top 10 lists, like the Terra Restaurant at Frenchman's Bay in Maine, Moderno Churrascaria, and more.
Travel Tip
Locate your passport and make sure it's valid several weeks or a month before any big trip. Christopher almost couldn't find his passport right before a trip they had planned to Canada.
 

Carry On Only

Saturday Jun 08, 2024

Saturday Jun 08, 2024

Ep13: Carry On Only
Travelers Ashleigh and Christopher dive into the benefits of traveling with only a carry-on bag and share tips for packing light. They discuss clever packing strategies, minimizing liquids, and how doing laundry on the can help get the most out of a small bag. The hosts also spotlight their recent trip to San Francisco, where they rode cable cars, ate Mission-style burritos, and stayed at the tech-forward Citizen M hotel.
Packing Light
Checking bags takes more time at the airport and makes transportation like trains more difficult.
Pack clothes that can be mixed and matched, and plan to do laundry on your trip.
Use packing cubes, roll clothes tightly, and wear bulky shoes and coats on travel days.
Look for travel-specific and quick-drying clothes. Shoes are often the hardest to pack lightly.
Liquids
Find dry versions of toiletries when possible.
Use TSA-approved bottles and tubes to consolidate liquids.
Buy large quantities of toiletries like sunscreen once you arrive.
San Francisco
Rode the cable cars and walked along Fisherman's Wharf.
Visited the aquarium and got ice cream at Ghirardelli Square.
Took a boat tour around the Golden Gate Bridge.
Explored the Mission District and historic Mission San Francisco de Asís.
Stayed at the modern, tech-focused Citizen M hotel.
Wine Break
The hosts try Ooba, an experimental "brut red" wine from Modales winery in Michigan's small Fenville AVA. Made from native grapes, it has funky, natural flavors that would pair well with club soda in a spritzer.

Travel Photography Tips

Saturday Jun 01, 2024

Saturday Jun 01, 2024

Travel Photography Tips
In this week's episode of the Go See Do Explore podcast, hosts Ashleigh and Christopher share their best tips for improving your travel photography.
Do Your Research
Ashleigh recommends doing some Google image searches of the places you're visiting before your trip. That way you'll know where the iconic photo spots are when you arrive.
Know Your Camera
Christopher emphasizes the importance of being familiar with your camera's settings and features. Practice using it before your trip so you can operate it quickly when trying to capture fleeting moments.
Bring Backup Batteries and Memory Cards
Ashleigh tells a cautionary tale of running out of charged camera batteries at the start of an Alaskan cruise. Always have spares on hand!
Use the Right Lenses
Christopher suggests investing in a good all-purpose travel lens with a wide focal range. This allows you to be prepared for photographing both near and far objects without needing to change lenses.
Pay Attention to Composition
Christopher's tip for better composition is to simplify the frame and focus on one primary element that captures the essence of the scene.
Change Your Perspective
Ashleigh says to try shooting from non-eye-level angles - up high or down low. This can lead to more dramatic and unique perspectives.
You Probably Don't Need a Tripod
Modern cameras and phones can often capture sharp low-light shots without a tripod, according to Ashleigh. They're usually not necessary for daylight travel photography.
Edit Your Photos
Christopher makes the case for doing basic edits like cropping, color correction, and straightening to make your images pop. This can be done easily on both computers and phones.
Consider Time of Day and Weather
While golden hour light is ideal, Christopher says compelling travel photos can be captured at any time of day. Overcast skies also offer opportunities for great shots.
Print Your Photos
Ashleigh strongly recommends printing your best travel shots for framed photos, gallery walls, and photo books. Services like Shutterfly and Mixbook make this easy.
Put Down the Camera Sometimes
Ashleigh's final tip is to make sure you enjoy the moment and don't just view the trip through your camera lens. The memories matter more than the photos.
Wine Break: The hosts sample Lambrusco wine from a can, which they find drinkable but not amazing. They look forward to trying higher quality Lambrusco on an upcoming trip to Italy.

Friday May 24, 2024

Ep 11: The End of Airline Junk Fees?
In this episode, the hosts discuss recent changes in the U.S. airline industry regarding fees and regulations. Frontier Airlines announced their "New Frontier" initiative which includes eliminating change and cancellation fees when purchasing fare bundles, being more transparent with pricing, and improving customer support. This comes as the Department of Transportation cracks down on "junk fees" and pushes for greater transparency from airlines.
Frontier's New Bundles
Frontier introduced new fare bundles - Economy, Premium, and Business. The bundles come with different seat selections, baggage allowances, and no change or cancellation fees. To get no change/cancellation fees, you must purchase a bundle. The Business bundle gets Frontier's new "Upfront Plus" seats, which are similar to European-style business class with extra legroom and middle seats blocked.
Change/Cancellation Fees
Frontier is now emphasizing the no change/cancellation fees, but you only get this if you purchase a bundle. Spirit also just changed their policy - no fees if you change/cancel 60+ days out, $119 fee within 6 days. Spirit now has one of the best cancellation policies in the U.S. airline industry.
DOT and "Junk Fees"
These changes are in response to pressure from the U.S. DOT to eliminate "junk fees" and be more transparent. The DOT wants fees for bags, seat selections, changes/cancellations to be disclosed upfront along with airfare. Refunds for cancellations must also be processed faster. This applies to all airlines. The legacy carriers have filed a lawsuit against this, claiming it is unnecessary and will confuse consumers.
Wine Break
The hosts try the sparkling wine Neon from Mawby Winery in Michigan. It's made from the hybrid grape Cayuga White and uses the Charmat method. They discuss the winemaking process and flavors.
12 Hours in Iceland
The hosts share about a 12-hour layover they had in Iceland. They got a rental car and toured the Reykjanes Peninsula. Highlights included seeing the landscape, geysers, and having the "best fish in the world." They regret not seeing the Blue Lagoon but look forward to returning to see more of Iceland.

Apps for Travel

Sunday May 12, 2024

Sunday May 12, 2024

Apps for Travel
In this episode, Ashleigh and Christopher discuss their favorite apps for travel planning, transportation, outdoor adventure, tourism, dining, and communication.
Transportation and Navigation
Road Trippers and iExit - Help plan road trips
FlightAware - Track flights
Airline apps - Manage flights and boarding passes
LoungeBuddy - Find and book airport lounges
Citymapper - Multi-modal transit directions
Google/Apple Maps + Smartwatch - Walking directions
GasBuddy - Find cheap gas prices
OBI - Compare rideshare prices
Parking apps - Find and pay for parking
Rental car apps - Book last-minute rentals
Outdoor Adventure
Ultimate Campgrounds - Discover campsites on public lands
Recreation.gov and ReserveAmerica - Book campsites
Campendium and HipCamp - Campground reviews
RV Life - Campground ratings and amenities
National Park Service app - Park guides and maps
Topo Maps+ - Detailed hiking maps
AllTrails - Hiking trail finder
Go Paddling - Kayak launch sites
Tourism
Freetour.com - Free walking tours
Viator - Discounted tours and activities
GetYourGuide - Tours and attractions
Groupon - Local deals
Guide Along - GPS-guided driving tours
Rick Steves Audio Europe - Free audio walking tours
Review sites - Restaurants, hotels, attractions
GlobeTips - Calculate local tipping
Communication
Revolut - Multi-currency payments
Google Translate - Translate text and images
WhatsApp - Messaging overseas
MyTSA - Airport security wait times
Mobile Passport - Expedited customs
Timeshifter - Avoid jet lag
Wine Break: Ginjinha
Ashleigh and Christopher try ginjinha, a Portuguese cherry liqueur from Lisbon. They recommend looking for it at Total Wine.

Friday May 10, 2024

California Zephyr & Long Haul Amtrak
Overview of Amtrak
Amtrak is a publicly traded, for-profit company funded by the federal and state governments. It is an unusual public-private partnership for the U.S. Amtrak runs long-haul scenic routes as well as regional routes. The long-haul routes run primarily from Chicago west on freight rail lines and have a reputation for being frequently delayed.
Classes of Service
There are three classes of service on Amtrak's long-haul routes:
Coach - Regular train seats with more legroom than an airline.
Roomettes - Compact sleeper accommodations for 1-2 people with bunk beds.
Bedrooms - Larger sleeper accommodations with a couch that converts to a bed.
Sleeper car tickets include meals in the dining car. Coach passengers can pay extra to eat in the dining car.
The California Zephyr Route
The California Zephyr runs daily from Chicago to Emeryville (San Francisco Bay Area) in 51.5 hours. It runs through:
Rocky Mountains in Colorado
Upper Colorado River
Sierra Nevada Mountains in California
Major cities along the route include Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno, and Emeryville.
Our Experience on the California Zephyr
We traveled in a roomette sleeper cabin. The roomette was very small but comfortable. Sleeping was challenging due to the motion and noise of the train. The food in the dining car was quite good overall.
We had a 3.5 hour delay in Colorado due to engine trouble but enjoyed the scenery. The route through the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada was spectacular.
The communal dining was pleasant and we enjoyed chatting with fellow travelers. The observation car was a great place to relax and enjoy the views.
Positives and Negatives of Amtrak
Positives:
Comfortable, relaxing way to travel
Get to see the scenery without having to drive
Negatives:
Very expensive compared to flying
Often significantly delayed
Tips for Riding Amtrak
Pack light - space is very limited
Bring an eye mask for sleeping
Power options are limited - bring backup chargers
Plan for delays and schedule flexibly
Wine Break
This episode's wine break featured Red Door wine from Door 44 Winery in Wisconsin. Located on the Door Peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan, Door 44 makes high-quality wines despite Wisconsin not being known as a wine region.
Travel Tip - Always Be Charging
Always put your devices in low-power mode before traveling. Have chargers, cables, and backup batteries readily available. Take every opportunity to charge devices while in transit.

Top Ten Places to Return

Friday May 03, 2024

Friday May 03, 2024

Top Ten Places to Return
On this episode of Go See Do Explore, Ashleigh and Christopher share their top 10 places they would like to return to and reminisce about past travels from onboard the California Zephyr from Chicago to California. Shoutout to the Lou Mongello and the WDW Radio Show for inspiration for this episode. 
Some of the links below are affiliate links and as such, we earn a small commission from purchases that allow us to continue telling our stories without costing you anything extra. 
Christopher's #1: Mount Desert Island, Maine
Christopher's first choice is Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park in Maine. He feels like he didn't get enough time to hike all the trails and see everything he wanted to when they visited in 2019. Ashleigh agrees and suggests bringing their kayaks to explore the ponds and lakes.
Ashleigh's #1: The Black Hills, South Dakota
Ashleigh's first pick is the Black Hills of South Dakota. When they spent a week there in 2022, she feels like they only scratched the surface. She wants to dig deeper into Custer State Park and see more of Badlands National Park. She also suggests camping in Custer State Park next time.
Christopher's #2: Traverse City, Michigan
Christopher's second choice is Traverse City, Michigan. It's an easy drive from their home in Michigan, but he loves the natural beauty and wineries. He says it feels like home. 
Ashleigh's #2: Washington, D.C.
Ashleigh surprises Christopher with her second pick of Washington, D.C. They only spent one day seeing the monuments when they were in college. She wants to see the cherry blossoms in spring, explore the Smithsonian museums, and sample the international cuisine.
Wine Break: Texas Wine
The hosts take a wine break, as is tradition on their train journeys. They are drinking a Malbec from William Chris Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country. They discuss the growing Texas wine industry and how it produces unique wines from warmer climate grapes like Tempranillo and Albarino.
Christopher's #3: Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Christopher chooses the Valle de Guadalupe wine region in Baja California, near Ensenada, Mexico. They discovered it on a cruise excursion last year. He loved the beautiful scenery, excellent wine, and olive groves. It's harder to access from the U.S. but he has an elaborate plan to return.
Ashleigh's #3: St. Maarten
Ashleigh picks the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. She fell in love with the French side of the island, especially the seaside village of Grand Case. She reminisces about an incredible meal at a restaurant called Nice SXM, where she first discovered her love of pesto.
Christopher's #4: Toledo, Spain
Christopher chooses Toledo, Spain for his fourth destination. He loves how old and historic it is compared to cities in the U.S. The friendly locals, fun restaurants and the ability to explore at night when the day tourists leave make it special. He tells the funny story about their meal being served in a cocktail shaker.
Ashleigh's #4: Azores, Portugal
Ashleigh is shocked Christopher didn't include the Azores islands of Portugal on his list. They only got a small taste on a cruise shore excursion, but loved the tea plantation, geothermal cooking, mineral springs, and the beautiful scenery of places like Lagoa do Fogo.
Christopher's #5: Puerto Rico
Christopher picks Puerto Rico as his final destination. He explains all of the reasons he loves it - the beaches, rainforests, history of Old San Juan, and the food and culture. He even looks at real estate listings there frequently. Ashleigh agrees Old San Juan is one of her favorite cities.
Ashleigh's #5: Douro Valley, Portugal
Ashleigh closes her list with the Douro Valley wine region of Portugal. She wants to take the scenic train from Porto through the valley and spend more time in the countryside and wineries.
Final Segment: Book Recommendation
Ashleigh recommends the book Wine Trails of the U.S. and Canada by Lonely Planet. It has guided them to excellent wineries during their wine travels everywhere except Michigan. Christopher suggests they should write a Michigan wine guidebook.

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