The next stop on my culinary world tour is Spanish Paella. As I'm not a seafood fan, I picked a chicken and chorizo recipe from Epicurious.
The sixth meal in my international tour was Romania's Mititei. A Sausage like dish, made with minced lamb, chicken and beef and flavoured with cumin, coriander and thyme, it's a perfect BBQ dish. It needs preparing the evening before but requires little in the way of unusual ingredients.
If Camden was on the beach in the late '90's it would be Venice Beach now. Legalisation of marijuana has made the substance ubiquitous along the beachfront, the smell is almost overpowering and no doubt helps generate a roaring trade at the various snack shops along the promenade.
DTLA is full of fantastic architecture, from soaring skyscrapers to bas relief buildings. The most memorable is of course Gehry's, the chrome matching his work in Dusseldorf but the Broad has a mesmerising flowing outer facia, and the interior of the Bradbury building brings tourists from around the world.
On a hill facing the Hollywood sign and at the summit of the Firebreak Trail sits the Griffith Observatory. Constructed in 1933 and opened to the public two years later the observatory has a number of exhibits like the Foucault pendulum in the lobby and the camera obscura giving views of downtown.
Stockholm is a city on the water, looking into the Baltic, passed its many islands, the city itself forms a crosshatch pattern of islands connected by bridges over the inlets and rivers. In the winter many of these rivers freeze, and its common to see the locals skating across them.
The city was first mentioned in 1350 BCE and has been, in one state or another in constant use since. and Palestine, with Bethlehem in particular has a wide range of tourists and is highly dependant on the income. Most tourists come for a few hours for for a day trip, a much smaller number stay in one of the thirty hotels.
When people talk about Jerusalem they are really talking about the old city, the town first settled in the 4th century BCE, which has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times. Jerusalem itself has grown well past that point, but the old city is still a major part of the town and is not just a site of ancient wonders, but of shops, homes and restaurants.
People often compare Wadi Rum desert to Arizona. Whilst both are desolate landscapes dominated by rocky outcroppings, the similarity really stops there. Wadi Rum does not have the dramatic striation that defines Arizona, but instead has an almost melted look on its rock outcroppings due to the soft sandstone and limestone of the region.
Petra is an ancient Nabatean city and has some of the most incredible, memorable and breathtaking architecture you will see in you life. In the middle of the desert, the sun bakes down, but over the centuries the rare rain has slowly been eroding the carvings, despite the overhangs and rain gutters the Nabatean's caved and the local archeological teams keep in working order.
Kiev has a strange below ground collection of shops. Certain subways are populated by a variety of shops and cafes, never seeing the light of day. There is a strong presence of sex tourism in Kiev, more than I have seen anywhere else. Strip clubs are common and Tinder was extremely active. It doesn’t feel sleazy so much as that there is a deep power imbalance between the Ukraine and the outside world.
Reykjavik is a surprisingly busy city on the west coast of Iceland. Surrounded by black volcanic stone and yellow grass the city is striking. Arctic winds blow in from the coast, and Iceland is the third windiest place in the world. Houses are generally low with sloped roofs to avoid the ever present wind.
Belgrade, as it is not served by any low cost airlines, is spared the stag dos and hen dos that fill other eastern European cities. As such, it's tourism is lower volume and less crass. The city is served by a good network of Trams, which are surprisingly thiner than the average tram in other cities.
A two week driving tour of the Alps, touring different cities, towns and villages. The trip started in Nice and ended in Munich. Whilst we had a drink in Monaco, we figured out our next stop, we wanted to be in Turin the following evening and didn’t want a long drive that afternoon.
A two week driving tour of the Alps, touring different cities, towns and villages. The trip started in Nice and ended in Munich.. Monaco is only 9 kilometres from Nice but they are a windy, slow kind of kilometre. They run along the coast road and give some great views of the incredibly wealthy,.
Tiny winding streets with old buildings, hugely driven by city break tourism rather than the more sedate options are part of the character of Split. The small tight streets in the old town have lead to the adoption of motorised cards, like you may see in a warehouse for moving goods around.
Days are identified by Roman numerals. The city has a strong resonance with Rom, the history of repeated attempts to align with the Hapsbergs and the Pope have given Vilnius an affinity from Italy as well as this there is a stronger Russian influence than I have seen in the other Baltic states, they have a soviet influence, but less of the historic Russian.
Architecture is varied, but there is not much of the extremely modern glass around. Brickwork dominates and it feels that even new buildings are trying to fit in. The main exception is the area around the Rhine Towner, a needle standing tall and alone on the riverside and the various modernist buildings nearby.
Gaudi’s influence can be felt throughout the city, even though there are in truth only a small number of his buildings in a large sprawling city the influence of colour and shape make Barcelona an interesting city. Whilst it has many of the dull square buildings that infest major cities, it also has old churches in immaculate repair and colourful shapes and sculptures scattered through the city.
It had rained all night, so the start of the surfing lesson was pushed back a half hour due to the weather. When we got there we were loaned a rash guard (long sleeved t-shirt) given a lot of instructions on safely and then split into small groups, each with an instructor and taken out into the surf.
We then reached the Bribri village and did the chocolate and medicinal herbs tour. We were shown various plants used for natural lipsticks, glue, mosquito solution and other things. Highlighting just how practical indigenous people have been with their environment. Nothing is wasted because waste cannot be afforded.
Once we were changed and had snorkels on, we took a small, somewhat overloaded, boat out to ‘the point’ to swim around the coral reefs. The water was very shallow, most of us got a scrape or two from the rocks but visibility was excellent and we saw some great fish, the highlight being a manta ray.
The alarm at 4:30am signalled the start of one of the main adventure elements of the trip. We would white water raft down the river to a lodge in the middle of the jungles of Costa Rica. We would then spend some time hiking and doing various other activities on the second day and then do some grade 3 and 4 rapids on the final day.
Walking across the eight bridges of the cloud forest was a bit of a disappointment from what we were expecting. Advertised as a solid two hour walk we were done in 55 minutes; including time to take photos, and I take a lot of photos. To be fair to the guide, we were the ‘active adventure’ group and so would take a walk like this more briskly.
Sunday was an early start though easy to manage as we had all had and early night the night before. Breakfast was very local, and something we all later found out we’d need to get very used to, Gallo Pinto, Costa Rican Rice & Beans, a stable of breakfast and several other meals. Once we were full of rice and beans it was then on to the bus for the 4.5h drive to Montverde.
The flight Miami to Costa Rica had some lovely views as we traveled south, although we were nearly redirected to Liberia due to bad weather which would have been a bad start to the trip. They made it down on the second attempt; to the wild cheering and applause of the Americans who get very excited by ‘airplanes’.