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How to Eat When you Travel

A Taste of Something Different. Enjoying local cuisine is a special part of traveling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Travelers who tend to dine on their creature comforts while otherwise being adventurous always perplex me. Why fly halfway around the globe only to eat at McDonalds? I travel specifically to sample the local flavors, explore the […]

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A Taste of Something Different.

Enjoying local cuisine is a special part of traveling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Travelers who tend to dine on their creature comforts while otherwise being adventurous always perplex me. Why fly halfway around the globe only to eat at McDonalds? I travel specifically to sample the local flavors, explore the regions’ spices and cultural specialties. The cuisine says a lot about the culture and diving head first is how I travel.

Obviously there are restrictions that I usually follow, never drink the water in Central America, avoid extreme spices and be wary of some street food. I tend to eat too much street food, but I figure if the locals eat it, why shouldn’t I? Water in third world countries in general should be avoided due to parasites that your insides might not be used to. Eating extreme spices when on a road trip is another danger all together.

Countless times I’ve been unsure about tasting something only to be completely surprised and amazed by the new flavors. Eating live octopus in Japan sounded and looked insane but once I actually did it, well, it was pretty gross, to be honest. Not everything you try will be appetizing but at least I can say that I tried it. The memory is always with me and the experience was unforgettable. Had I decided not to push my boundaries and try the still alive octopus, I don’t think the memory would last.

My travel memories are constantly awakened by smells, tastes and textures. It’s amazing how the mind connects memory and experiences. I can’t walk past a gyro shop without being reminded of my time in Greece, the aromas are so overpowering and pleasurable. Gyros are now one of my favorite dishes and I have an afternoon in Athens to thank for that.

https://kimchisoul.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/eaststreet/

Rule #1:

I have a few simple rules that I live by when I travel that apply to food. First, I always eat local my first meal. You won’t find me eating at an American chain restaurant anytime soon, even if it’s in Istanbul. Instead I’ll ask my cab driver or concierge at my hotel what food I NEED to try. You’d be amazed by how many suggestions you’ll receive.

I find that people are generally proud of where they are from and revel in the opportunity to share their favorite local spots. I know that when friends and family visit me in Los Angeles, I am a venerable fountain of information, just spewing restaurant names and my favorite dishes at anyone who will listen.

http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Wtk-Did-You-Ever-Eat-A-Balut/2390649

Rule #2:

My second travel cuisine rule is simple… do not be afraid. Many of what you are about to eat may look, smell or even taste bad, but you cannot show fear. Instead be brave and just go for it, take a big bite, chew it up and savor the flavor. Granted, you may spit the food immediately out and that’s fine, I’ve done it. It’s a natural reaction of your body to reject some tastes, but at least you now know that whatever you just ate is bad.

My wife and I were traveling in the Philippines a few years ago and my cab driver said that we had to try balut, which if you don’t know is fermented bird embryo, and is a very acquired taste. When I first saw balut I was honestly scared, it does not look appetizing, in fact it doesn’t even look edible. The smell was horrendous and all the locals stared at me like I was about to do something real dumb, and I was. I followed my own rules and I took a bite, not a large bite, but a bite nonetheless and my reaction was violent and over the top. I spit out my bite, threw my arms into the air, yelled a primal scream and tossed some water down my throat. Was I overreacting? Sure, but with the added audience I figured a larger than life response was warranted. I got a loud boisterous reaction from the gathered crowd followed by applause. This was my favorite moment from our trip to Manila. A simple taste of local cuisine has stuck with me for years like it happened yesterday and to think, if I hadn’t been adventurous I wouldn’t have ever experienced this. Of course I remember the awful taste, but what I truly remember were the connections I made with a dozen locals that day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npF_5k9R7s0

Rule #3:

My last rule of eating while traveling involves your intestinal fortitude. When I travel, I always try whatever on the menu scares me the most. In England, this was blood pudding. Just the idea of eating coagulated blood is so unappealing to me its no wonder I was terrified by this choice. But just like all my other food related travel memories, I can perfectly paint a picture of that day. I was visiting my good pal Simon, who was on weekend leave from the British Army. We met at a local pub and began drinking pints, as the locals were known to do. Who was I to shy away from local traditions?

Simon and his mates knew I was terrified of eating blood pudding, so they egged me on for hours. I finally caved to their taunts and ordered blood pudding. A horrid looking dish, much darker than I had ever imagined and the smell was similar to an old dumpster. They come in sausage casing, which is already a strike against them, and are cut into bite size pieces. All that build up and you know what… they weren’t half bad. They taste similar to liver, very irony and grainy. The texture is one I won’t soon forget, but you know what… that day was incredible. I’m honored to have spent it with young soldiers while we sampled their local cuisine.

Remember friends, travel with your senses and you will never forget.

 

AJ

 

 

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Food

Sipping Your Way Through Napa Valley

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying a perfect weekend in Napa Valley, you’re missing out. 

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STAY AT A B&B OR DON’T STAY AT ALL

     A charming Bed & Breakfast will only amplify the quaintness of the whole experience. There are plenty of reasonably priced options available in the area. If you can sneak out on a Friday, it always makes for a better weekend if you can wake up at your B&B on Saturday morning.

ACTIVITIES GALORE!

     It’s hard to believe and potentially unnecessary, but there are plenty of great activities in Napa Valley that don’t involve wine tasting.

Oxbow Public Market: This lively market is perfectly nestled right against the Napa River. It’s full of plenty of vendors selling all sorts of fresh produce and also contains numerous restaurants. So this is a great place to grab a quick lunch.

The Silverado Trail: This beautiful trail just about runs the entire length of Napa Valley. It has amazing views and can be a perfect place to clear your head and get your calm on. And if you’re more of the active type, it’s great for biking!

Greenhaus Day Spa: What’s a weekend getaway without a trip to the spa? Greenhaus Day Spa in downtown Napa is widely considered the best spa in the area. Get the full treatment with a relaxing massage, a cleansing facial, and the all-important mani-pedi combo.

WINERIES ON WINERIES

     If we’re talking about Napa Valley, we’re talking about wine. There are plenty of amazing wineries and vineyards in Napa, but here are our personal favorites.

O’Brien Estate: This is one of the most popular wineries in all of Napa and actually requires booking your tasting in advance. Make sure you try the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pride Mountain Vineyards: This vineyard requires a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. The whole property covers about 235 acres and has gorgeous views in every direction. When it comes to wine, their claims to fame are their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Merlot.

V. Sattui Winery: While the wine here is truly excellent, this spot is also great for a picnic lunch. You can grab everything you need in-house: the cheeses, the fresh bread, the antipasto spreads, and a nice bottle of wine and then grab one of the many picnic tables outside and take it all in.


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Food

Is A 24-Hour Vacation… Possible?

Five locations where a 24-hour vacation is completely possible.

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     Have a long layover? Maybe a day to kill during a longer trip? Or just like to get out of town? If any of those apply, these five cities are the best places in the world to spend a 24-hour vacation! 

ISTANBUL

     Istanbul is the ideal one-day vacation destination for the historian, as it lies right on the Bosphorus river, the geographical division point of Asia and Europe. The architecture in Istanbul is truly breathtaking as some of it has been there since the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Can’t-miss attractions include the Topkapi Palace, the former home of the Ottoman sultan, the Hagia Sophia, a sixth-century mosque, and the Grand Bazaar, which is the oldest covered market in the world. And if you have any extra time and feel like relaxing a bit, enjoy one of the city’s numerous Turkish baths, or historichammams.

AMSTERDAM

     Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and it owes a lot of its beauty to its architecture. You could spend an entire day there just walking in and taking in the buildings and you wouldn’t feel like you’ve wasted your day. If you don’t feel like walking, there are also daily boat tours that travel along the many canals that run through the city. Not to mention the countless museums in Amsterdam all with amazing works of art. And of course, no Amsterdam vacation would be complete without a trip to the Anne Frank house.

 

SEATTLE

     The jewel of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle may seem like a big city, but what makes it attractive for a short trip is the fact that many of its best attractions are all very close to each other. Even with only 24 hours, you’ll have enough time to take in the Museum of Pop Culture, the Space Needle, and the world-famous Pike Place Market. Try to throw one of those fish if they’ll let you. It’s harder than you think!

HONG KONG

     Hong Kong is one of the biggest and fastest-moving metropolitan cities in the world. The sights and views and endless and bountiful in this lively city. Be sure to check out the giant Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island, and of course the Hong Kong Museum of History. If you’re a tea nut, rumor has it that the MingCha Tea House has some of the best tea in the city. And the best part about Hong Kong? Unlike the rest of China, anyone visiting from North America or Europe don’t have to get a visa in advance. 

REYKJAVIK

     Reykjavik is the capital of one of the most scenically beautiful countries in the world, Iceland. It is the home of the famous Blue Lagoon, the geothermal spa that you’ve probably seen on your Instagram feed more than once. There you can also find the architectural feat, Hallgrimskirkya. Which is just an enormous, beautiful church. And, if you’re feeling saucy, take a tour of the Phallological Musem, which is a museum entirely dedicated to, well, phalluses.

 


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Food

Making The Stop At Roadside Attractions

Taking the time to stop and enjoy the roadside attractions.

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     Road trips aren’t just about point A & point B; it’s about the journey. The highways of America are filled with unique roadside attractions that divert your attention when traveling to your roadside attraction. Instead of driving past these attractions, let’s examine the best. 

CABAZON DINOSAURS

     You may recognize these roadside dinosaurs from the movie “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” These two giant concrete dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex are located in Cabazon, CA. You can find these behemoths just West of Palm Springs, California on the 10 freeway. Dinny and Apatosaurus measure 150 feet and Mr. Rex a Tyrannosaurus Rex is 65 feet. You can even make your way inside the T-Rex’s head!

Sadly, the original owners sold the roadside attraction in the mid-90s and the new owners put a Creationist museum on the property. 

CARHENGE

     Head to Alliance, Nebraska next time you are driving through the heartland of America and stop by Carhenge. It’s the full-scale replica of Stonehenge in England… but made with junker cars. Artist Jim Reinders studied the original sculpture while living in England and came home to make the statue as a memorial to his recently deceased father. Made with 39 cars, which were upended and dug into the ground.

PENNDOT ROAD SIGN SCULPTURE GARDEN

     A small art school in Pennsylvania came up with the brilliant idea to repurpose old street signs and turn them into a wonderful piece of roadside art. Allegheny College sponsored the attraction and students created all the art. The art spans a quarter-mile stretch of Smock Highway just southwest of Meadville, PA. If you are traveling through Pennsylvania this summer, stop by.

CADILLAC RANCH

     If you are driving through Texas, chances are you are cruising Interstate 40, which drives through Amarillo. This is where you’ll find Cadillac Ranch, a huge art installation made by three hippies from San Francisco, CA. They took a bunch of old Cadillacs and buried them hood first into the ground, then covered them with graffiti.

PORTER SCULPTURE PARK

     When driving through the barren wasteland of South Dakota on Interstate 90, around 25-miles West of Sioux Falls, you’ll stumble upon the Porter Sculpture Park. Imagine huge metal sculptures in a wide-open field and the only backdrop is Mt. Rushmore off in the distance. You’ll find over 50 huge sculptures on the 10-acre park. The biggest piece of art is easily the giant bull’s head, which measures 60-feet-tall, which just happens to be the same size as the face on Mount Rushmore.


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