20 Feb

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phuket Vegetarian Festival | Travel Guide Phuket
Phuket Vegetarian Festival | Travel Guide Phuket

Every year in Phuket there’s a festival called the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.The Vegetarian festival in Phuket takes place during the first 9 days of the 9th lunar month of the traditional Chinese calendar. The Vegetarian festival normally falls in the last week of September of within the first week of October.

The Phuket vegetarian festival is organized each year to celebrate the start of the Taoist lent. Due to the large number of Phuket residents with Chinese roots, the Taoist lent is celebrated among a large group of the population of Phuket. The vegetarian festival starts of by devout Chinese religious believers completely abstaining from all dairy and meat products.

Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival is not for the faint-hearted. For vegetarians, this is a must-see on Phuket. Wherever you are, you will seeritual dance spectacular fireworks loud, blood-stained shirt from the media, old and religious devotion paid activities( see more here http://www.canetictrust.com/ ) . There are 10 rules that must be observed by participants in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, including the wearing of white, the use of separate utensils from people who aren’t participating in the festival, the prohibition of pregnant or menstruating women from watching or attending any rituals, and the prohibition of drinking alcohol and having sex

8 Feb

Ho Chi Minh City, must see in South of Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is located on the banks of the Saigon River. Throned near the Mekong Delta, this city is the metropolis of the country. The architecture and lifestyle of Ho Chi Minh City is the reconciliation between the French and American influence, with many points of modernity without losing the historical features of the Vietnamese people.

Notre-Dame

The Reunification Palace is definitely a good place to visit for its importance of the Vietnam War If the building does not impress you enough, rest assured that museums are abound and admission fees are generally low. These are the most popular places in the eyes of visitors: Ho Chi Minh Museum, Revolution Museum, and Museum of Vietnamese History.

If you are tired of talking about the past and want to know more now, perhaps District 1 the best way to discover a vibrant and booming economy . Streets and boulevards are lined with tall conifers and you can easily walk around with a map. Here you will see men on foot and dressed like those of Wall Street, in the midst of women wearing conical hats and drink in the street. There are some notable sites such as the position of the city, the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Ben Thanh Market.

It might be a relief to know that some of Ho Chi Minh City is also considered as the best place in Vietnam for entertainment. The three major theme parks: Dam Sen, Suoi Tien , Dai Nam are the three complexes with zoos, landscapes, water, and water features – well equipped for a family trip. There is no Disneyland in Vietnam, but these complexes do their job: they replace Andersen stories of fairy tales with the popular Vietnamese tales. You play and have fun while learning about a different culture and traditions.

Poste_Saigon

If Ho Chi Minh has things to win the rivalry against Hanoi is the colorful nightlife. The bars are open late and vary in style. Adding to that, Ho Chi Minh City has many tea houses which hosts live music performances of Vietnamese and international artists. For a change, you can also go local for a night or two, hop into one of the street food stalls, order a drink and toasted peanuts and talk until midnight.
With his back on a vast plain that stretches west across Cambodia, with the rich Mekong Delta at his feet, Ho Chi Minh City is located in a majestic giant shift in the Sai Gon River.

Bulging with a population of nearly seven million, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest and most exciting city in Vietnam. While Hanoi is the center of government, Ho Chi Minh City is the economic heart of the nation. Money is a constant idea in the minds of all. Taxi drivers can recite the latest regulations of the joint venture, and even shirt makers remain in contact with their foreign customers by email. Time is precious, and people are in a hurry, although conversation often takes a small town tone as bakers and bankers compare their ‘information’ ‘inside’ the café terraces. .

The best way to see everything Ho Chi Minh City is to walk. Most major sights are in District 1, which is quite compact and easy to maneuver. Taxis are metered and very cheap. You can get around the city for about $ 2 or $ 3. Motorcycle taxis (xe om) are even cheaper. The “xich lo” (pedicab) carry one passenger at a time. They are slow and somewhat uncomfortable, even more intimate and charming to discover the rhythm of modern Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, they are gradually ousted central Saigon by traffic.

Visa for Vietnam 

Most nationalities need a visa to visit Ho Chi Minh City, read the page Visa Vietnam à l’arrivée – Vietnam visa on arrival for more information. An increasingly popular alternative is to get a visa on arrival, which is convenient for those who live far from an embassy or do not have time to send their passport by mail.All travel to this enigmatic city is rewarding and can not be ignored. Staying long enough, it may eventually reveal its mysteries.

2 Feb

What to prepare for a travel in Vietnam during the Tet ( new Year festival )

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If you wish to travel to Vietnam during Tet, there are a big change from the other times of the year. The country is idling due to the Tet holidays that last one or two weeks, this can obviously affect the way to travel in this country.  For Vietnamese, it’s the biggest holiday of the year and the majority returned to their families – What can you expect during this occasion n Vietnam ?

1) THE CLOSED SHOP

Yes, you will encounter that all  shops are closed  while traveling though this periode in big cities – You can not make shopping any where during 3 first days of New Year ! But it’s not the biggest difficulty that you have –  there is nothing to eat ( alot of restaurants are closed )  during the Tet holiday. So prepare some things before these days

2) TRANSPORT

It’s crowded !. Many Vietnamese are returning home during this period and join local families. In Tet days, less traffic in big cities,.

3) VISAS

Plan well in advance before your trip a vietnam visa on arrival . Visas on arrival at the airport can be a bit longer to get over this period.

4) HIGH PRICES

Prices are a bit higher than normal days. Can be twice or even 5 times more expensive ! It will not surprising any one in Vietnam as it’s usual –  But as you are tourist, it’s good to know that before. It’s also harder to negotiate during Tet. ( local people dont negociate during the Tet )

5) HOTELS

Like transport, hotels are full. Book in advance .

23 Jan

A GUIDE TO WINE TASTING IN NAPA VALLEY

GUIDE TO WINE TASTING IN NAPA VALLEY
GUIDE TO WINE TASTING IN NAPA VALLEY

We’ve been away from California for over a year now, but I still get regular requests from friends and family asking for advice about wineries in Napa Valley. I’m always happy to share my thoughts and advice, so here they are, in blog format, for all to see.

First Things First: Transportation 

Tourists who don’t want to run the risk of a pricey DUI ticket often decide to hire a limousine, ride the Napa Wine Train, or take a bus tour. The problem with all of these options is that they visit a set list of wineries (usually the big touristy ones), and you have little or no control over your experience.

For a more personalized tasting experience, Napa Bee Driven is a much better option. They’ll provide you with a knowledgeable chauffeur to drive you to the wineries of your choice (instead of the big wineries frequented by every tourism company in the valley), for $50 an hour. The drivers know their wine, and we’ve had great luck following their recommendations. Any research into pricing in Napa will confirm that they offer the best deal in town. So what’s the catch? They drive you in your car. Just tell them where to meet you and the driver will appear out of thin air. At the end of the day they’ll drop you  back at your hotel or the restaurant of your choice. It’s not the lap of luxury, but for budget conscious travelers it is the way to go.

Next Up: Lunch

Most of the wineries open at 10 or 11am, but we never visited a winery before 1. Instead, we’d have lunch at Gott’s Roadside (Napa location). Kevin recommends the Texas burger and a side of onion rings; I like the veggie burger and sweet potato fries. If you’re a dessert person, the milkshakes are amazing. Everything is delicious and you really can’t go wrong.

Now The Important Stuff: Wineries

This list begins just outside of downtown Napa and winds its way up to St. Helena. I recommend starting with the winery farthest from your hotel and making your way back through the valley to get the most out of your time. This map is a handy reference.

JUDD’S HILL 

We love this winery. It’s a tiny little family-run winery and microcrush operation just off the Silverado Trail. The staff is one of the friendliest in the valley, and the wine is always tasty. We had one of the best bottles of Syrah we’ve ever tasted at this winery. Just call first for an appointment (they are very flexible and accommodating, even at the last minute).

Tasting fee: Not listed, but definitely reasonable (around $10 or so), and they’ll waive the fee if you purchase a couple of bottles.

VAN DER HEYDEN

I have to include this winery on the list for entertainment value alone. It’s basically a tin shack in the middle of a vineyard, with a ramshackle outdoor seating area and friendly dogs roaming the property. If you’re lucky, you’ll be hosted by the grumpy patriarch of the family, who seems ambivalent about whether or not people like his wine (what matters is that he likes his wine). They also offer delicious homemade truffles for tasting. You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned the wine yet… that’s because it isn’t very memorable. You go to Van Der Heyden for the experience, not the wine. We usually make it our last stop, as they are open later than everyone else (6:00), and it’s a fun way to end an afternoon. They recommend making an appointment, but we’ve never had a problem walking in.

Tasting fee: Not listed, but I remember it being very affordable ($10 or so for a flight), and I believe they waive the fee if you purchase a bottle (don’t quote me on that).

CHIMNEY ROCK

This is not a winery for people on a budget. Bottles start at around $35, and prices top out around $100. The tasting room is stuffy, and you’ll definitely feel some pressure to buy a bottle (or 10). So why would anyone go here? For the wine. This place is the opposite of Van Der Heyden, lacking in fun and atmosphere, but the wine is oh-so-delicious. You’ll wish you had a few hundred dollars to blow on their delicious reds. Just don’t stay long. There is too much fun to be had elsewhere. No appointment necessary.

Tasting fee: $20-$35 per flight, not waived with bottle purchase

REGUSCI

This winery is on my top 3 list. It’s a family operation and it feels like it (they’ve been making wine since 1932). The wine is pure California, with big, fruity flavors. We always go for the Zinfandel. Along with great wine, they offer friendly staff and beautiful grounds. They even have a corgi who will follow you around and beg for a belly scratch. Bottles start at $35 and make their way to $86, but they are worth every penny. We always have fun here. It’s the kind of winery that makes you want to move to the valley, just so you can visit more often. No appointment necessary.

Tasting fee: $25 per flight. They’ve been known to pour a little extra if you make friends with the hosts, and they’ll waive the tasting fee with a bottle purchase.

JESSUP CELLARS

This winery is in Yountville (short detour from the Silverado Trail), and it is the perfect place to end your tasting adventure if you plan to eat at one of the restaurants in town (which we lovingly refer to as the “Keller Compound”, see restaurant recommendations for more information). The winery doubles as an art gallery, and seating is provided in a restaurant style layout. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and they offer a nice variety of wines to taste. There is literally something for everyone, and they might have the best rose in the Valley. Just don’t forget to make an appointment first, because they tend to get very busy.

Tasting fee: $20, waived with bottle purchase

SADDLEBACK CELLARS

We stumbled onto this winery entirely by accident one afternoon, and I’m so glad we did. The wine is good, and the atmosphere is great. The staff is friendly and accommodating, and once you sit down at one of their tables, you might not want to get up. The tasting room bumps right up against their vineyards, providing great scenery, and a perfect place for a tourist photo. We really like the viognier. They require an appointment, but like most other vineyards in the area, they are happy to make room for you if at all possible.

Tasting fee: $20 for a tasting of 7-10 varietals (most vineyards offer 4 varietals in a flight)

TURNBULL WINE CELLARS

We love this winery. They offer two tasting rooms; the main tasting room offers current releases, and the reserve tasting room offers reserve wines and a fantastic art gallery. There is something on offer here for all tastes and interests, and the staff is knowledgeable and accommodating. If you go for the reserve tasting, you won’t be sorry. We really like their cabs. No appointment necessary, and make sure to leave a little extra time in your itinerary to spend time browsing the art.

Tasting fee: $10 for standard flight, $20 for reserve tasting

FROG’S LEAP

Frog’s Leap is the one and only big producer on this list. You can find their wines at your local grocery, but it’s still worth a visit for the experience of sitting in their tasting room and wandering the grounds of the vineyard. The tasting room is really a wraparound deck on the side of a mansion, with views onto the gardens and vineyard. You get a little cheese snack with your wine, and visitors are encouraged to wander through the vineyards, gardens, barns, and barrel room. Nothing is rushed here, and you’ll definitely feel like you’re away from it all. We like the petite sirah, the rutherford and the pink, but you really can’t go wrong. They require an appointment for groups larger than six, but it is a popular winery so I recommend calling ahead for any size party.

Tasting fee: $20

Don’t Bother: Wineries that aren’t worth your time or money.

SILVERADO

Don’t let the grounds fool you, Silverado is an empty suit. And they’re owned by Disney. One of their wines is named “Fantasia”. ‘Nuff said.

PEJU

The wine is excellent. The presentation-not so much. First they make you wait with a group of strangers in a holding pen, then everyone is welcomed into the tasting room at once. Once you are completely trapped with a crowd of strangers, the host/community theatre reject does a cornball song and dance about each bottle, followed by a heavy handed sales pitch. Avoid this place at all costs.

GRGICH

I will never understand how this winery became the tourist trap that it is. The wine is nothing to write home about, and the tasting room is a crowded nightmare. Don’t bother.

Last Stop: Dinner

If you don’t have a few hundred dollars to spare at The French Laundry, I highly recommend making a reservation at one of the lesser Keller enterprises.Bouchon and Ad Hoc are affordable and offer some of the best food available in Napa Valley (all conveniently located in Yountville, aka, the Keller Compound). If you want to break free of all things Keller, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen offers farm fresh California cuisine to die for. To experience Michelin starred vegetarian fare, try Ubuntu in Napa. I can still taste the fried green tomatoes I had the last time we were there…

So there you have it. Happy drinking! Feel free to share your favorite wineries and Napa Valley experiences in the comment section below!

Links:

Transportation

Napa Valley Winery Map

Napa Bee Driven

Lunch

Gott’s Roadside

Wineries

Judd’s Hill

Van Der Heyden

Chimney Rock

Regusci

Jessup Cellars

Saddleback Cellars

Turnbull 

Frog’s Leap

Dinner

French Laundry

Bouchon

Ad Hoc

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen

Ubuntu

23 Jan

4 THINGS TO DO IN AMMAN

1. Visit the Citadel and Roman Amphitheater

 

4 THINGS TO DO IN AMMAN
4 THINGS TO DO IN AMMAN

The Citadel has been occupied for at least 9,000 years by a series of different civilizations, and the site is covered in ancient artifacts from Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic settlements. For a small fee of 15JD (roughly equal to 15GBP or 24US Dollars), you can hire a guide at the entrance. Don’t be afraid to haggle about price or refuse service from guides who seem questionable. Ask a lot of questions, and choose a guide who is experienced and willing to give you at least a full hour.

 

Just down the road from the Citadel is the Roman Amphitheater. You can enter the site for 2JD, and you don’t need a guide. The theater has amazing acoustics. Press your ear to one end of the wall at the base of the theater, and have a friend press theirs to the other end. Your voices will carry through the wall in a strange echo effect, sort of like an ancient game of telephone. Make the effort to climb to the top row of seats in the theatre and you’ll discover one of the best views in town.

 

Getting to the Citadel: Take a taxi. Your driver will offer to wait (for a fee), but it really isn’t necessary. Taxis regularly cruise through the parking lot looking for fares, and it’s a lot more fun to explore the site if you aren’t on a schedule.

Getting to the Roman Theater: We walked from the Citadel to the theater, but you will definitely need a good map (or GPS) to help you find your way through the winding streets of Amman. The easier (and less interesting) option is a taxi.

2. Eat at Falafel Al-Quds

This Rainbow Street falafel stand has been frying up delicious sandwiches for 40 years. For 2JD, you get a falafel sandwich with spicy sauce and vegetables. They’re small but tasty. If you ask nicely (and they aren’t busy), you can forgo the bread and buy a serving of plain falafel balls to snack on. It’s a takeaway place, but there are benches outside where you can enjoy your sandwich and some great people watching.

Getting to Falafel Al-Quds: Rainbow Street is about a 20 minute walk from downtown Amman, but you’ll definitely need a map or GPS and a good sense of direction to find your way. Taxis are cheap and easy, and drivers will all understand if you ask for Rainbow Street.

Falafel Al Quds-Jabbal Amman, First Circle, Rainbow Street

3. Drink Arak in a Rainbow Street Cafe

 

Arak is a colorless, unsweetened, anise-flavored Arabic liquor that really packs a punch at 50% alcohol by volume. It is served in a shot glass with a glass of ice and a bottle of water. When the ingredients are mixed together (ice first, then 1/3 Arak to 2/3 water) they react to form a cloudy white beverage best consumed with a mezze plate or garlicky snack. While alcohol isn’t forbidden in Jordan, few places have it on the menu. Luckily, the youthful and westernized Rainbow Street neighborhood has a few cafes that serve alcohol.

Getting there: As listed above, Rainbow Street is a 20 minute walk from downtown Amman or an easy taxi ride.

Where to drink Arak: Books@Cafe has a friendly, western style cafe upstairs, and an English bookstore downstairs. The cafe has outdoor seating with spectacular views of the city.

Omar Al Khattab Street #12 First Circle, Jabal Amman

4. Wander through the covered market in Downtown Amman

 

The traditional fruit market in Downtown Amman is a treat for the senses. Fresh, colorful produce is piled on tables at eye level; each mountain of fruit is topped with a freshly sliced piece to tempt potential customers. Baskets full of exotic spices line the streets, and the scents fill the air and make your mouth water. Vendors literally sing for their customers, listing off the best deals of the day in melodious chants that echo through the market. Don’t be afraid to chat up the vendors, who are more than happy to practice their English.

 

Getting to the market: The market is just around the corner from the Roman theater, so it’s easy to take a taxi to one or the other and walk.

23 Jan

HOW TO PLAN A WEDDING IN 6 WEEKS (AND ON A TIGHT BUDGET) WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND

Today is our second wedding anniversary, and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. Looking through our wedding pictures and receiving sweet notes from our families got me thinking about how crazy that time was before our wedding, and how I’m not exactly sure how I (we) got through it all. When we found out that Kevin had landed a job in the U.K,  we knew it meant we’d have to get married in a hurry if I was going to join him. We had been talking about marriage for a few months, but neither of us expected to have to pull a wedding together in 6 weeks. But somehow, we did it. And we had a lot of fun.

So, if you’re in a hurry to get hitched, or if you have an itty bitty budget, I have a little advice for you.

1. Get by with a little help from your friends (and family, and friends of friends).

If people offer to help, resist the urge to control everything, and let them. My mother in law set up the chairs for our ceremony. One of Kevin’s colleagues had a friend who offered up their backyard as a spot for our ceremony, and we made it work (free venue in Napa Valley!). A friend helped me get ready on the big day (after a hair tutorial from my stylist). We saved a ton of money on set up fees and avoided having to hire a planner.

DSC 0015 How To Plan A Wedding In 6 Weeks (And On a Tight Budget) Without Losing Your Mind

2. Keep it small.

One of the best ways to get your wedding costs (and stress) under control is to keep your guest list short. We started with a list of 120 and narrowed it down to only 45, and it was the best decision we made. The small guest list reduced our hassle and expense, but it also allowed us to enjoy quality time with everyone who attended. We emailed the friends and family who weren’t invited and told them the truth-that we love and appreciate them, but that we could neither afford nor manage a big wedding. The responses were overwhelmingly kind and supportive.

3. Be resourceful.

I hired one of my former students (who is now studying photography) to be our photographer. I cared about getting great candid shots more than portraits, and I knew she could handle it. Her services for the evening cost us all of $200. Kevin’s best friend played his guitar at our ceremony. His services were free. For our reception we brought our iPod with a pre-planned playlist and Bose speakers, and saved ourselves the cost of a DJ or band (as well as awful requests like the Hokey Pokey).

DSC 0360 How To Plan A Wedding In 6 Weeks (And On a Tight Budget) Without Losing Your Mind

4. Throw tradition out the window.

Given the size of our wedding, we decided not to have a wedding party. When you only have 35 in attendance, it feels like one big, unofficial wedding party, except no one had to spend money on matching outfits. One of our closest friends officiated the wedding, which allowed us to personalize the ceremony as much as we wanted to (we kept it short and sweet at 8 minutes long). We didn’t care much about having a traditional cake, so we saved a lot of money by letting our guests order dessert off the menu at the restaurant that hosted our reception.

DSC 0459 How To Plan A Wedding In 6 Weeks (And On a Tight Budget) Without Losing Your Mind

5. Prioritize.

In the age of Pinterest and a gazillion wedding blogs, it’s easy to get carried away with the planning and spend hours (if not days) agonizing over decor and favors. Do you remember the favors from weddings you went to 5 years ago? Or what colors the flowers were? Neither do I. People remember who they met, how much they drank and danced, and whether or not it was a fun wedding. We decided to put the bulk of our budget towards food and booze, and our guests seemed pretty pleased with that decision.

DSC 0547 How To Plan A Wedding In 6 Weeks (And On a Tight Budget) Without Losing Your Mind

6. Don’t waste time organizing things that don’t need to be organized.

I sat down to organize a seating chart, agonized over it for a few hours, then gave up. I realized that our guests are adults who are perfectly capable of picking a chair, sitting in it, and enjoying their evening. It wasn’t necessary for me to micromanage the experience. Everyone made new friends and the seating chart ended up being a non-issue.

*I did create a seating chart for the “head table” so we could sit with friends who had participated in the ceremony.

7. Remember that it’s your wedding.

Kevin and I decided from day 1 of planning that we were willing to hear advice and input from family and friends, but that ultimately our wedding would be about, well,us. Guests were going to have to choose between a vegetarian and a meat option because I’m a vegetarian. Meat eaters would have to either enjoy their steak dinner or try something new. We walked down the aisle together, hand in hand, because we were starting our life together. My dad didn’t give me away because, well, that’s just antiquated nonsense. Obviously every couple and every family is different (ours kept pretty quiet about their opinions and let us do as we pleased), but it’s really important to filter out the noise and plan the wedding you would enjoy the most.

8. Don’t fall into the wedding markup trap.

Venues and vendors mark up their rates significantly for weddings. Whenever you can get away with it-lie your ass off. We told the restaurant that we were renting the space for a going away party, we told the chair vendor that we were renting for a garden party, and so on. They’re not going to come after you for the secret markup if they find out you’re lying! Another secret: use small or lesser known vendors whenever possible. We found our amazingly talented and affordable florist on Yelp. She does flowers for parties and weddings as a hobby, which meant she was really flexible (we hired her 2 weeks before the event) and easy to work with. And did I mention talented?

DSC 0519 How To Plan A Wedding In 6 Weeks (And On a Tight Budget) Without Losing Your Mind

9. Make it a multi-day affair.

We were living in California wine country when we got married, so we invited everyone to come for a three-day weekend and enjoy everything Napa Valley has to offer. We set up an itinerary on our wedding site and let people choose which activities they’d like to do with us, as well as other options if they wanted to go their own way. We had a really fun wine tasting caravan the day before our wedding, and it allowed us to spend quality time with everyone, which left us feeling relaxed before the big day.

DSC 0026 How To Plan A Wedding In 6 Weeks (And On a Tight Budget) Without Losing Your Mind

10. Enjoy the process and the day.

Don’t let anyone tell you that nonsense about how you won’t spend time with your spouse at the reception, and you won’t have time to eat, blah blah blah. Make time for what is important. Enjoy yourself, and don’t succumb to the cultural pressure to have the BIGGEST MOST MEMORABLE WEDDING EVER. Focus on having fun and appreciate the special moments. You only get to do this once.
23 Jan

FEELING UNDERWHELMED IN SOPOT (POLAND)

I had high expectations for Sopot. I’ve been to the Baltic before (in crappy Swedish weather, no-less) and loved it. I love being near the water, and I’m not one of those snotty travelers who thinks every trip has to have some kind of deep and life-altering effect on me (sometimes empty-headed relaxation is just what the doctor ordered), so hanging out in a Polish resort town should have been a really pleasant experience.

But I just couldn’t get into it.

It’s probably not be Sopot’s fault though. The weather was awful. We were tired. On top of that, everything was pretty much closed down for the season, leaving the town feeling deserted and cold. We spent most of our time there eating pierogi and reading, but we did manage to snap a few deceptively sunny photographs before the sky opened up and washed away my vacation dreams (rain makes me a little melodramatic).

SopotPier Feeling Underwhelmed in Sopot (Poland)

SopotHotels Feeling Underwhelmed in Sopot (Poland)

SopotFamousCasino Feeling Underwhelmed in Sopot (Poland)

Jellyfish Feeling Underwhelmed in Sopot (Poland)

The lesson in all of this: Go to Sopot in the summer. Because you might actually get the chance to enjoy it.

23 Jan

THE LIEBSTER BLOGGING AWARD

I was nominated for the Liebster Blogging Award by Cristina from Chronicles of a Travel Addict. While I am both incredibly flattered and honored that she chose me, I’m also really grateful. The winter blues and a lack of inspiration have left me feeling really ‘blah’ about blogging for the past few weeks, and participating in this project is the perfect way to get going again.

But first, let me just suggest that you head on over to Cristina’s site and have a look around. Her writing is honest, thoughtful, and interesting. On top of all of that, her photos are lovely, and she’s from California (which automatically makes her amazing as far as I’m concerned)!

On to the part where I go on and on about myself for an entire post…

The Liebster Blogging Award is a way for newbie bloggers (or part-time, non-committal bloggers like myself) to network and share a little bit about themselves.

The Rules Of The Liebster Award:

1. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

2. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and ask them 11 questions.

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I’m a huge animal lover, and my fantasy life is to live on a farm in Northern California and spend my days caring for rescued animals.

3. If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life and never get fat, I’d choose ice cream.

4. I took a year off after high school to work for Al Gore’s presidential campaign at a local democratic party office in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. It was simultaneously exciting and soul crushing.

5. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and it’s one of the things I miss most about the USA. I’ve already planned 5 years worth of costumes for when we move back.

6. Even though I only lived in San Francisco for 2 years, it was the only place that ever truly felt like home and will always be my favorite city in the world.

9. I think feet (including my own) are totally gross, even when they’re well cared for and moisturized.

10. I’m currently obsessed with the TV show Parks and Recreation.

11. I love being near the water, on the water, or in the water. Lakes and rivers will do, but there’s nothing like the ocean.

1. Do you think that traveling is a phase in your life, or will you travel forever? 

While living abroad is definitely a phase, travel will always be an important part of my life. There are just way too many places to visit!

2. What kind of luggage do you bring when you travel?

Suitcase. I hate carrying stuff around!

3. Do you try to learn a country’s language before traveling there and why/why not?

I’m not a long term traveler, and we travel often, so I think it would be impossible to learn every language. However, I always learn the basics before we go anywhere. I find it fun to learn new words, but it’s also just the polite thing to do and makes traveling so much more interesting and fun.

4. Who is your main inspiration in life?

This question is so hard! Different people inspire me in different areas of my life, and it wouldn’t be possible to list them all here.

5. Why is writing about your travel experiences so important to you?

I started this blog after we moved as a way to keep in touch and share our experiences, but my motivations have changed over time. Now I use it as a way to document our adventures, as much for me as for the people who read it. It’s such a great way to process my experiences, and if it provides entertainment for others, then that’s great too.

6. What is the one belonging that you cannot do without while on the road? 

I can’t travel without my Nike Frees. They are the best walking shoes ever, and they fold up tiny for easy packing.

7. What is more important: traveling the world or getting a “proper” education?

I think they’re equally important. Although I would say that it isn’t necessary to travel the world as much as go out into the world and try new things.

8. What is your favorite travel book?

I don’t actually read that many travel books. What I do instead is read books about whatever destination I’m heading to next. I love getting a little bit of historical and cultural context before I travel so I can get the most out of my experiences. I do watch a lot of travel TV though, and Michael Palin, Rick Steves, and Anthony Bourdain always get me excited to go out and see the world.

9. Have you tried solo travel and would you recommend it to others?

I haven’t done any solo traveling. I’m not opposed to it, but I really enjoy sharing my travel experiences with Kevin (my husband), so I haven’t felt the need to go out on my own.

10. Do you think that people can maintain a life of travel and a serious relationship? 

If you’re committed and have a supportive partner, I don’t see why not!

11. I’d like to see your favorite animal picture (that you took). Share it! 

My favorite animal picture is of a goat we saw in Sweden. He was very curious about our camera.

 

My Nominations For The Liebster Award

(I measured the ‘under 200 subscribers’ based on Facebook followers, since it’s not always obvious how many subscribers a blog really has!)

1. Geri from Two-Up Travels

2. Lynne from LynneNieman.com

3. Jessica from Curiosity Travels

4. Priyanka from Road Tripping

5. Callie from Wilds of Wherever

6. Laurence from Lost In The Pond

7. Colleen from Colleen Brynn Travels

8. Jessica from Ways of Wanderers

9. Lauren from OnBlueUnderCanvas

10. Caitlyn from Olympic Wanderings

11. Shing from The Culture Map

Questions for the Nominated Bloggers

1. What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?

2. What is your favorite place in the world?

3. Do you prefer to travel alone, or with a friend/partner?

4. What’s the scariest or most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

5. If you had unlimited funds to plan your perfect day, what would you do and who would you do it with?

6. If you could stay a certain age forever, what would it be?

7. What was the last song you listened to on the radio/your ipod?

8. What’s the worst place you’ve ever been to?

9. What’s your favorite season and why?

10. What is the single best decision you’ve made in your life so far?

11. What restaurant or food do you love even though you know you shouldn’t?

23 Jan

TOURING CASTLE HILL, BUDAPEST

Castle Hill is on the Buda side of the Danube, and it is the home of the Buda Castle and palace complex. The district also offers cafes, cathedrals, museums, and wine tasting. We skipped most of the indoor activities and spent most of our time sightseeing…

The tour started with a ride up the funicular.

funicular Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

The top of Castle Hill offers terrific panoramic views of Budapest and the famous Chain Bridge.

ChainBridge Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

The architect of the Chain Bridge believed he had created a perfect masterpiece…until someone pointed out that his lions had no tongues.

tonguelion Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

Another view from Castle Hill.

Parliament1 Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

There is a legend that this bird dropped his sword to mark the territory of the Hungarian people.

CastleHillBird Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

A lovely gate in the castle complex (far more striking than the palace itself).

CastleGate Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

This fountain tells the story of the Hungarian King Mattias and one of his hunting adventures. I liked the droopy dog faces.

DogFountain Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

We couldn’t resist a photo of an old Trabant (we also couldn’t believe anyone still drives these things).

Car Touring Castle Hill, Budapest

Overall, Castle Hill is fairly underwhelming, especially compared to the rest of vibrant Budapest. But it’s well worth a ride up the funicular to enjoy the views and a stroll around the district.

23 Jan

BUDAPEST CHRISTMAS MARKET

I love European Christmas markets. For me, sitting around in the cold drinking mulled wine and gorging on comfort foods with your loved ones is the perfect way to embrace the darkest, coldest days of winter. We were lucky enough to stay at a hotel right next to the main market in Budapest, and we made a point to stop by and enjoy a treat every day that we were in town.

We made sure to enjoy a daily mug or two of mulled wine. It is the best way to stay warm, after all.

Gluhwein Budapest Christmas Market

Then we’d browse the Christmas tchotchkes…

Tchotchke Budapest Christmas Market

and enjoy a gingerbread appetizer.

Gingerbread Budapest Christmas Market

The Budapest market had an array of delicious traditional Hungarian foods to choose from. Just looking at these stews made me feel warmer.

Stew Budapest Christmas Market

Kevin drooled a bit over the spicy Hungarian sausages.

Meat Budapest Christmas Market

By far our favorite part of the market was the discovery of kurtosckalacs, or Hungarian stove cake. It’s made from a thin piece puff pasty twisted around a wooden spit. The spit is then rolled over a hard surface to flatten out the dough, and dipped in sugar. Then it’s roasted over an open flame, caramelizing the sugar and toasting the bread.

Stovebread Budapest Christmas Market

Once it’s all ready to go, customers choose a “topping” of cocoa, walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon or coconut (we went with cinnamon). The bread is then wrapped up in cellophane, and handed over to drooling patrons like ourselves. The way the dough is wrapped around the spit makes it easy to tear off bite sized pieces for easy sharing. We agreed that chimney cake might be the best dessert either of us have ever had.

KevinChimneyBread Budapest Christmas Market

Happy Holidays, everyone. I’m off for some more mulled wine…