Posts Tagged With: Greece

Worst tour guide ever?

Once upon a time I went to Munich Germany to experience the ever so popular festivities of Oktoberfest. Who would of known that this event would introduce two of my now dearest friends, Carina and Florian.

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I’m grateful to say that it would take several posts for me to show you all of the connections we’ve had since 2010, including but not limited to Amsterdam, Greece, Costa Rica, Recklinghausen and another Oktoberfest. With that said, let’s just jump to the exciting news that my amazing German bundles-of-joy finally made a visit to California!

Although I had been traveling as well and only arrived 18 hours prior to them, I had been planning a few adventures to show them just a small variety of what Northern California has to offer. Little did I know, my calendar dates were not in line with well… anything.

Could I really be the worst tour guide ever?!

Worst tour guide ever: Spend 4 years bragging about living next to the grand Folsom Lake, just to have them visit during one of the biggest droughts in history.

Redeem the situation by bringing them to a different body of water known as the American River. Sun, water, smiles… Check!

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Worst tour guide ever: Invite them to a big night on the town during the only holiday weekend in which everyone is out of town.

Redeem yourself by taking them on a Johnny Cash tour (they’re huge fans) from the actual “Folsom Prison” to the tracks in which you used to “hear the train uh comin…”.

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Eventually making it to Reno (where Mr.Cash “shot a man… just to watch him die”).

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Worst tour guide ever: Almost run out of gas on the way to your next stop.

Redeem yourself by making sure to point out the stateline… Twice!

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Worst tour guide ever: Register for a “discount motel” without ever seeing it before.

Redeem yourself by bringing out a camera and spending five extra minutes in the room doing, hmm… I don’t know what to call this one.

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Worst tour guide ever: Describe the perfect beach… just to arrive at a full parking lot and an over populated coastline.

Redeem yourself with a walk through the gorgeous greenery of North Lake Tahoe to a lesser known beach. Classic panoramic views and sandy toes… Check!

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Worst tour guide ever: Get them really excited about the huge Gondola ride, stand in line, get to the ticket booth and find out it has doubled in price since last time you were there!

Redeem yourself by taking a night walk lit by fireworks and stumble upon what appears to be a huge bike?! Photo time!

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Worst tour guide ever: Take them to a country bar explaining the art of line-dancing and prepare them for tall cowboy hats, only to walk in to an empty bar with a dj playing pop and hip-hop music all night.

Redeeming yourself isn’t as necessary here, because with energetic music and quality people… fun just follows.

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Worst tour guide ever: Drive them to San Francisco not realizing there were a dozen festivals happening which means, extreme traffic and no parking…anywhere!

Redeeming happened with a refreshing walk across the popular Golden Gate Bridge.

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To conclude the possibility of me being the worst tour guide ever, I’ll close with the defense that when you combine genuine people with a true desire for a good time… No tour guide, weather disasters or other unexpected fault can tarnish a beautiful memory. Honored to have been a host and now sad to see them go, I’ll simply look forward to the next glorious time we meet again. Fingers crossed, I’m not the guide.

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I want to recognize several fabulous people that you see in the post above.
Hayden, (who met Florian in Greece and Carina in Amsteredam) thank you for opening your home, loaning your truck and being the best second worst tour guide with me!
Michelle and Nick, (met Carina and Hayden in Costa Rica) your lovely Truckee home and energetic night out in Reno absolutely enhanced our time together, thank you for all of the love!
Nate, (who was in Germany with me, but didn’t get to meet these guys till now) thanks for being so flexible, your hospitality didn’t go unnoticed!
Ian, (who met their friends Denise and Ioni in Argentina) I’m so thankful we got to celebrate your birthday with you this year!
Mike, (met Carina in Amsterdam) so glad you brought another smile to the table.
Crystal, thanks for making time to come out and finally meet the duo I’ve been telling you about. Ps, you doing the worm made the night!

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“Do you have a menu with pictures please?”

We’ve explored the beautiful world of international markets, so lets now venture into the restaurant scene. As a backpacker, I’m conscious of when and where I splurge, especially when it comes to food, drink and entertainment. With that said, when friends meet up abroad or a group of other travelers are heading out for dinner, sometimes I’ll spoil myself and join them!

Unfortunately I’m not going to post about every country, but here are some memorable meals and unique bites from around the world.

I’m going to start off with a very colorful, protein packed salad in a cafe near Nice, France. Since the extent of my French is “Parlez-vous anglais?” (Do you speak english?) and “merci” (thank you), this was ordered by pointing at a tiny picture and a huge smile.

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This accidental order in Paris came from my eagerness to try “carpaccio”, a plate of thinly sliced raw meat or fish. My innocent mistake was trusting the waiter and agreeing to a similar dish called “Tartare”. This however, is a meat dish made from finely minced raw beef or horse served with onions, caper, seasonings and sometimes a raw egg. Not the same my friends, not…the…same!

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In Spain, I usually find myself nibbling around town due to the ever so popular tapas or pinxtos. Clarification, “tapas” isn’t necessarily a particular type of food, rather a small portion of anything ranging with paella, croquettes, fish and peppers on toast, and so on. Pintxos’ are bites you pick up off the bar and bring back to your table to enjoy. Then, depending on how many sticks you have on your plate tells them how much to charge for at the end. Here are some of my favorite scrumptious snacks in Spain.

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The course pictured below describes my opinion of the country it came from, Switzerland – clean, tasteful and proper.

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Moving on to the hearty land of Germany, specifically the state of Bavaria. Even though I struggle to find lean and light meals there, I can still enjoy a plate of solid comfort food. My favorite is the warm red (or blue or purple depending on which German you ask) cabbage side dish. My not so favorites seen below are the flour and potato dumplings and pretty much anything that may have the word “wurst” in it.

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Before I move on from Germany, I’d like to dedicate a short description and a few photos to the wonderful world of Oktoberfest! Continue reading if you’re up for a story or skip to the pictures to see a few options you may get during the traditional festivities.

The day I learned that the Bavarian language differs from the rest of Germany, goes as follows. My dear friend Carina, you all should know her by now, was attempting to help me order soup. She said she’d do her best since she doesn’t fully understand Bavarian. I asked for anything with vegetables “something that grows or is green” was my request and considering we had been at the festival since sunrise with nothing but a liter of beer, I was excited to consume anything! That was until… until we realized I had ordered liver dumpling soup.

Before…

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During…

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After…

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Other appetizing dishes to coat the stomach while celebrating the largest people’s fair in the world!

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Since I’m usually visiting my friends in Holland, I rarely explore and sit down at a legit Dutch restaurant. I have however, enjoyed the best falafel wrap while in The Netherlands!

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Hungry in Hungary? (Curtesy laugh goes here) Expect meat, potatoes, salad and bread. Not to shabby!

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Sword fish, greens, garlic butter and bread was the choice in Crete, Greece. Naturally complimented by the traditional Greek dessert of Baklava, Ouzo and fruit!

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Heading southeast to Malaysia, I’m going to show you two different ways they can serve up the same meal. First we have the over portioned, grease covered greens aside fried fish.

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After being served the plate above, I mentioned my disappointment to a new local friend who then invited me to a different location to show me how it’s “supposed” to be done.

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My favorite meal in Malyasia wasn’t due to the taste, but the story that comes with it. If your remember the post of volunteering in Malaysia, then you’ll understand that this surprise dish was given and received with much gratitude. Thank you Marcel!

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Jumping over major seas, I’m now bringing you to Central and South America. With several countries, many amazing dishes and unique treats, I’m going to narrow it down to just a few.

First up, Pupusas! These light corn or rice tortilla type patties are stuffed with your filling of choice, then topped with a spicy coleslaw! We were introduced to this savory snack while being treated by a few locals in El Salvador!

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Costa Rica was easy. Just show me to the greens with a bit of fish and whatever drink comes blended, fresh and colorful. Pura vida!

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Jumping down to Ecuador presents some of the tastiest soups and flavorful ceviche I’ve ever experienced! The rich spices, fresh fish and crunchy toppings make for an amazing treat for your taste buds.

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Peru allowed me to feel joy when items like quinoa and sweet potato overruled the usual carbohydrates of pasta, corn and wheat. I love the ingredients of this country so much that I actually took a Peruvian cooking class!

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I’m going to bring Argentina into the mix due to the impressive meal we were served last year in Buenos Aires. I’m generally not a huge meat eater, so for this steak to hit my tops picks says a lot for the quality at hand. Take a look at those veggies too!

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In the waters northeast of South America sits one of my favorite islands called Barbados. Bajan cuisine includes a vibrant blend of foods with African, Indian and British influences. Not to forget one of my favorites, the amazing Roti from Trinidad!

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Australia and New Zealand (I apologize for bulking you two together, but only for the sake of this post), brought many home cooked meals. Mostly fresh from the farms I was volunteering on or hand picked from the gardens that I helped harvest. No complaints here with the abundance of fresh vegetables and local organic meat!

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Last but not least is the large island of noodles, fish, rice and other objects I don’t really know about (simply because my Japanese is as good as my French). Considering I’m wiring this post from Japan, there’s definitely more to come soon! For now, take a look at these mouth watering dishes!

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Ill leave you with an advertisement that isn’t tempting, but certainly entertaining as it’s a bit different than the usual Big Mac add.

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beach fun, good food and football…the American kind!

I’ll go ahead and admit to you now, this trip to Greece was not to explore ancient history or keep myself busy with guideed tours. I traveled here to see a new culture while visiting my dear friend Florian and of course try the food!

I’m hungry at the moment, so I’m going to begin with the edibles! My favorite thing about Cretan food? The abundance of organic, real and raw veggies. The restaurants are locally owned and operated and most ingredients are gathered right in their backyard!
Not so favorite fact… the lack of spice! “Hot” to them, means there is black pepper on the table.

Typically, you’ll get complimentary bread and butter before every meal and after, they bring you fruit aside a bit of Raki. Also known as Tsikoudia, this strong distilled spirit contains approximately 37 percent alcohol and is produced from the must-residue of the wine-press. I was told that Cretans are often disappointed when they travel abroad and these two customs are not delivered.

Our fancy meal of the trip was sword fish, stuffed mushrooms and greens. Followed of course, by the complimentary dessert and drink. Sorry, we devoured the delicious mushrooms before I took this photo.

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This italian restaurant claimed to have fresh pizza from a wood burning stove. Turns out they were advertising the truth! Here’s the afternoon delivery of fresh wood, followed by the pizza that the boys ordered.

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For this lunch stop, Hayden went for crougette balls (fried zucchini) and a typical cheese dish.
I thought I’d branch out and order the “special salad” (that was the actual name of it on the menu) and the only special thing to me was the 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in the middle. Why is this necessary and what we’re they thinking?!

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Hamburger and fries? Yes he did!

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A morning market treat for me was pomegranate and Greek yogurt. I added lime juice to make it into a dressing for my carrot, cucumber and mushroom salad. Top it with crushed almonds and viola, a scrumptious breakfast!

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Lets head to the beach! On this specific shore, you’ll find clear shallow water with fine sand to kiss your feet. I really don’t need to describe much else, as the photos say it all. Florian took time of his busy schedule to show us around the water. What a wonderful way to spend a day under the blue sky!

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Same sunshine, same beach… Different day. Time for a handstand!

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By night, you can be entertained by the usual bars, dance clubs and restaurants. Then there’s the not so well known options that we chose! First pick was heading to the sand with tiki torches, an adult punch bowl and Florian’s guitar.

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This was a Sunday night in which Hayden and I got spoiled with a local bar that was willing to play American football for us. Turns out there was another couple that had requested it as well. Before long, we had new friends, snacks, drinks and the Raiders game… What a night!

Dear Jennifer and Joel, it was a beautiful surprise to meet you two and I truly enjoyed our conversation! Cheers to what started with hand shakes and ended in hugs. I send you nothing but the good stuff!

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One of the last nights there, the city called for a power out during a rainstorm. This doesn’t slow them down at all! What was once loud bars filled with music and lamps is now candle lit rooms with the sound of waves crashing between conversations. Extremely peaceful and yet so thrilling with every unexpected strike of lightning and thunder.

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To my dear Florian, Daniel, Jule, Johanna and Irene. Our time in Crete has been marked “special” due to your enthusiasm and welcoming energy. To “the program”, we shall be in touch soon about future plans.

This is when my current partner in crime departs back west to the states as I journey east to Japan. I’m not sure I could possibly come close to properly describing my gratitude for our adventures together. Hayden, you and I both know that when I say “adventures”, I use that term in the least. Cheers to the next path crossing my friend!

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Categories: Art, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crete, the hometown of Zeus

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands, and sits just north of Africa. The wonderful people here consider themselves “Cretan”, not Greek and do a fine job of representing their independent culture. One of my favorite fun facts, speaking in mythological terms, Crete is believed to be the place where Zeus grew up!

I’m here visiting a dear friend of mine that I met years ago while dressed in a dirndl (I was, he was in lederhosen) singing German songs on a table at Oktoberfest in Munich.

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Year after year we’ve stayed connected and this time, our reunion sweeps me to his summer job at a hotel in Chania. Before I take you to Crete, lets sneak a quick look at the journey to get there starting with a hanging tram in Dusseldorf to a layover in Athens. I got excited when I saw the writing on the back of the seat. Almost there!

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Landing in Athens brings you an open designed terminal with many options to keep you occupied. With several museums, gambling halls, and cafe’s you’ll find quite a selection of entertainment. There’s even a kids play room if you care for a sitter while doing a little souvenir shopping. Hayden was behaving that day, so I let him hang with me.

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The dreaded airport lunch? Not today! A salad buffet full of raw veggies, herbs, toppings and fresh dips like tzatziki and hummus. This definitely beats the usual option of an iceberg lettuce bowl with a few slivers of carrot and a bag of dressing for the same price!

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A friendly and helpful side note to all of my frozen yogurt fans out there, at the Athens airport there are two different options for this cold delight. No need to worry, I did the exhausting hassle for you and tried both to confirm there is most certainly a better choice! Your welcome. The winner is…

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Ok, finally landing makes my stomach fill with excitement as seeing sweet Florian is soon to be! If you know this guy, you can confirm that his kind smile matches his sincerity and his German quirky sense of humor leaves your cheeks aching from laughing!

We meet up for our first breakfast after a good nights sleep, meaning a few hours as the sun was coming up (thank you to the unofficial welcoming crew and the deck of cards). Check out this view!

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Right away I felt my shoulders drop a notch and my busy mind lower gears. Between the Cretans love for food and drink, the warm sun on my skin and the ocean as a back drop, it only seems silly to allow any stress to hinder positive thoughts. Let me take you for a quick walk from our doorstep to the main road that hugs the shore.

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Next, lets explore the work place of Florian. This type of hotel is new to me as its specifically designed for German travelers on vacation here. Not only does the staff speak German, but their news letters, guided tours and special events are all centered to help the guests feel connected and comfortable. Welcome to Hotel Dimitra!

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Johanna and Jule, both here working from Germany, greeted us with eager smiles and fun conversation. Maybe its because we just came from their home country, but their sweet and spicy personalities made me feel comfortable instantly!

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On this evening, the hotel was throwing a themed party they described as “bad taste”. Apparently you’re supposed to dress in an awkward fashion and sport a “unique” look. Of course we were invited and yes, I encouraged (made) Hayden dress up. I think we did just fine! The walk from our place to the hotel was the best part. All of the tourist on the street and people dining on the terraces staring at us as we giggle our way past them. Great memories!

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A flash back of Jr.High popped into my mind when we were peaking around the corner to make sure we weren’t the only ones in costume. Coast is clear!

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I am one lucky lady.

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What better way to mingle with a crowd of Germans while visiting Greece than a theme party!

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Such an energetic event to kick off our time here. Also, many thanks to Florian for not only the personal invite, but the exposure to bring me some haircut clients along the way!

I’ll end this post now with a neat photo I snagged from the bar decor. More Crete to come!

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Categories: Accommodations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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