Eating and Drinking Around the World

For those that know me, you know that I LOVE Disney. It really is the most magical place on earth. Last month my husband and I finally had a wedding on our one year anniversary. Since we had already paid for a flight to the states and Orlando is only 6 hours from Charleston, I asked the hubs if we could go to Disney for a few days before flying back. We did three days this time (I usually just take 2) and we went to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.

I have Disney trips down to an art. Fast passes, where to go first in the park, which rides will be busiest so you need to go to them first, etc. Epcot, however, I realized I had been doing it all wrong.

For those that haven’t been, in Epcot they have the World Showcase. There are 11 different countries within the showcase and you can walk around eating, drinking, and enjoying the atmosphere of that country.

Anyhoo, I realized I had been going about it all wrong. Stopping somewhere and having a big lunch, then because of it not able to have a drink in every country because I’m so full. Plus, if you eat a big meal in one country, you miss out on all the other delicious food in other countries. But this time I had a plan! Get one drink and one small, quick food item in each country. My husband and I shared food and drinks. I know myself, I couldn’t handle 11 full sized drinks on my own. I wanted to save some dignity and walk myself out of the park because #goals.

I know that there are other lists out there on what to get, but I decided to take it upon myself to create a list and share! Should you take a trip to Epcot sometime, here are the food and drink items I found worth eating and drinking! Enjoy!

*Pro Tip: Share your food and drinks with a friend. This way you won’t get too full or too drunk, and trust me, your wallet will thank you!

What to eat and drink in the World Showcase:

  1. Mexico- Rose margarita and chilaquiles. I found both of these at the little outdoor place right inside Mexico, Jardin de Fiestas. Both were delicious, but I really liked the rose margarita! Strong and a good way to start!FullSizeRender (33)
  2. Norway- Aass beer and Lefse bread. Here you can learn about Norse Gods and visit Ana and Elsa if you don’t mind waiting an hour. The lefse bread was really good! It was thin bread rolled with butter and cinnamon sugar. My husband also took it upon himself to get mead as well. If you have never heard of mead, or haven’t tried it, it’s a honey wine. The mead they had was good and worth the try if you are feeling up for something new!FullSizeRender (32)
  3.  China- Canta Loopy, veggie roll, and curry chicken pocket. In China we ended up trying two foods. We got the veggie rolls at Lotus House, then I went over to Joy of Tea for our drink and found the curry chicken pocket. They looked so good I had to try them, and I don’t regret it! The Canta Loopy is vodka and cantaloupe juice on ice. Just enough sweetness and refreshing out in the sun.FullSizeRender (21)
  4. Germany- Hefeweizen and potato pancakes. Germany is one of my favorite places to go when at the showcase. I miss everything about living there, to include the food! I love the buffet and music at the Biergarten restaurant, but you won’t be able to eat or drink anymore after leaving there. So instead, opted for my favorite beer and the potato pancakes.FullSizeRender (31)
  5. Italy- Bellini and gelato. We didn’t spend too much time here since we live in Italy, but for the purpose of this post we did stop for food and a drink 🙂FullSizeRender (30)
  6. USA- Yuengling and turkey leg or pretzel. We skipped on the food in Liberty Square, but we stopped for the beer!FullSizeRender (36)
  7. Japan- Violet sake and garlic teriyaki udon. The violet sake was delicious! I don’t really like sake, but this beverage was definitely worth getting! It was sake, purple pear and lime juice on ice.FullSizeRender (28)
  8. Morocco- Habibi daiquiri and fried cauliflower. I love going to Morocco, it’s just so pretty! I always recommend getting henna while there as well!FullSizeRender (27)
  9. France- Orange slush and strawberry crepe. The slush is a mix of Grand Marnier, rum, Grey Goose, and orange juice. With it being so hot out, that orange slush was a nice cool down! There is of course champagne that you can get, but we opted for something a little icier. There are also different crepes that you can get, to include sugar and chocolate. If you’re feeling a serious sweet tooth, you can get ice cream added to it.FullSizeRender (26)
  10. UK- Pear cider and pear cider-brined shredded corned beef. These paired well together, since obviously the corned beef was soaked in it. The cider is a nice break from beer and was refreshing.FullSizeRender (24)
  11. Canada– Ottawa Apple and maple popcorn. Ottawa apple had Crown Royal Maple Whiskey, apple infusion, and cranberry juice. Popcorn is really the only option for quick food in Canada. They do have a restaurant you can eat at, but we were only going for the quick food options. However, the popcorn was still good and worth the try! Paired with the Ottawa apple (again it’s nice to try drinks other than beer), it was a good end to the day! You can even take it over to the stage and eat and drink while listening to music. They always have good live music performed on their stage.FullSizeRender (25)

Happy drinking and eating around the world!

If anyone else has done this and tried other drinks or food, I’d love to hear it! Could always use ideas for next time!

Things to do at the Verona Christmas Market

I love Christmas. It’s hard not to. So many things happen during this year. There’s snow and hot chocolate. There’s skiing and Christmas trees. There’s Christmas lights and music. My favorite thing about this time of year though? Christmas Markets. Germany has some of the best ones! Definitely tops my list of things I miss about living there. However, Italy has some pretty great ones too! There are plenty in my local area to go to, but sometimes it’s fun to venture out and take the train somewhere else. So, my friends and I decided we needed to see Verona at Christmas. It’s a two hour train ride, so perfect for a middle of the week day trip! I have been to Verona a few times before, but this was my first trip to their Christmas Market, which was huge by the way. The city center is a 10 or 15 minute walk from the train station. If you are just looking for a day trip I highly recommend it.

So, if you have never been to Verona, or even if you have, I made a short list of some must do’s! To include sights close to the center, and where the market is located, as well as, food that must be eaten!

Things to do at the Christmas Market in Verona

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1. Arena di Verona- This is a must because you can’t miss it as you walk into the city center from the train station. It looks like a smaller version of the Colosseum in Rome. To be fair it is a Roman amphitheater, so it makes sense. If you are into history, then this is definitely a must see! Even just to marvel it from the outside.

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2.  Torre dei Lamberti-  This is the tall clock tower in the Piazza delle Erbe. It’s the main piazza in Verona. Part of the Christmas market is also located in this piazza. You can climb up to the top and get an amazing view of the city. I think it was about 8 euro for the full tour (don’t quote me on that), either way it wasn’t too expensive and worth it! I didn’t climb it when we went to the market, but I did that last time I was there. You can’t beat the amazing view and since you’ll be there anyway, why not?

3. Vin brule- While you are in the Piazza delle Erbe, you should stop and get some vin brule. If you have ever had Gluhwein, then this will be the Italian equal. I will say the best vin brule I’ve had, has been at the Christmas market in Sacile. However, it is nice to shop and hold something warm, and this wine will do the trick!

4. Roasted Chestnuts- At the same stand where you bought the vin brule, you can also get some roasted chestnuts. Again, I remember eating them in Germany, and was glad to discover they sell them at their Christmas markets as well. They are so good and warm. A nice snack to have on a cold day.

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5. Kathe Wohlfahrt-  The Verona market has more of a German feel to it, you will notice this in most of the vendors and the items they sell. One such vendor, or store, is Kathe Wohlfahrt. This is the ultimate Christmas destination. If you leave the main piazza and walk over to Piazza dei Signori, you will find more of the market, as well as, this store. They have hand made wooden items, from ornaments to nutcrackers. I will say, this store is a bit more pricey, but the quality is great! If you go during the week there is no line to get in. If you find yourself there on the weekend, it’s a different story. The line may be lengthy and will wrap around the building.

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6. Pane Patate e Formaggi- I actually don’t know the exact name of this bread, I’m just going off of what I ordered. In the same piazza as Kathe Wohlfahrt, tucked in the corner, is this stand where they are making fresh bread. They had patate e formaggi (potato and cheese), or cipolla e speck (onion and a type of ham). I got the potato and cheese and let me tell you, I could have eaten 10 of those. I honestly regret that I didn’t it was so good. I’d say get at least one of each. Best. Bread. Ever.

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7. Casa di Giulietta- Because who can say Verona and not think of Romeo and Juliet? Some people may hate the story of Romeo and Juliet, I however, love it. Sure, in this day in age, it’s a little far fetched, but I think it’s a lovely story for that time. Anyhoo, if you walk down Via Cappello, a street directly in front of Piazza delle Erbe, you can’t miss it off to your left. It’s not as romantic as “Letters to Juliet” made it, so let that thought go. There are some letters, but mostly graffiti, it’s still a must any way. You can see her balcony and a statue of Juliet in the courtyard. And if it really compels you, you can grab her breast because that is a thing. I do suggest going into the little museum they have. The entrance is under the balcony. It’s interesting and has some items from the various movies that have been made.

8. Nutella Crepe- Before you leave, get yourself a Nutella crepe. Even if you think you’ve had a proper one, do it anyway. I know some places might serve a thicker crepe, this to me is not a crepe. It should be very thin, with whatever you want inside, folded, with powdered sugar on top. It is so gooood! It’s chocolaty and delicious. Perfect dessert and a good end to any Christmas market experience.

 

Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Italy

I’ve been horrible about posting the last few months, buuut moving to a new country will do that to you. A lot has happened and after nearly 4 months, I think I’m starting to feel like I’m home.

I’ve lived overseas before, but that was a different country, and well, about 14 years ago. So, things are different here. Some people complain about the differences, I however, welcome them! Except the tile floors. My feet are freezing and a black dog shedding on white tile……… I feel like I spend half of my life now just vacuuming. I bought slippers and fuzzy socks, so I at least fixed one problem. My oven is also T-I-N-Y… tiny. It doesn’t fit a standard cookie sheet, but no worries! I just bought a smaller one. Like I said, things are just different. So, in this post I’m going to share:

A Few Things I’ve Learned Since Living in Italy

  1. Italians have their own time schedule. Things are slower here. Not in a bad way, just no one is in a rush. Sooo…. if an Italian says one time, just maybe tack on an extra 30 minutes to it.
  2. Riposo is never missed. Riposo is translated to “rest” and Italians never miss their rest time. You can be certain that businesses will close for 2 to 3 hours Monday through Friday. This took some getting used to because you have to factor this in when planning to go run errands. I, however, have come to appreciate this part of the day. It goes back to Italians aren’t in a rush. So, go sit down and have un mezzo litro di vino or un cono gelato (my personal favorite is pistacchio or yogurt), and wait for things to open back up. Nessun problema!
  3. IMG_7255Recycling is next level. In America, I had one recycling can and everything went in it. Here, I have 5. Secco (non recyclable dry waste), vetro (glass), carta (paper), umido organico (basically biodegradable, foods), and plastica e lattine (plastic and cans). My biodegradable food has to be thrown away in a biodegradable bag and just gets thrown in this big bin behind our house where it will be nice food for some bugs. I will say, I appreciate the way they take recycling seriously. When you go shopping on the economy, they won’t give you a plastic bag unless you pay for it. It’s a good way to get people to bring their own and help cut down on plastic waste. America could take a tip from Europeans in that regard.
  4. Wine is cheap and delicious!  I can’t express this enough! You may pay for bottled water here, but I’m fine with that when the cost of half a liter of wine is the price of one glass in the states. The wine is just also, better. There is a winery 10 minutes from my house and I go purchase 5 liters for less than 11 euros. If you love wine thFullSizeRender (10)e way I do, this is a place for you! It’s also acceptable to drink wine at any time of the day, so #noshame here when I’m drinking it at lunch at 11:30- 12:00.
  5. So. Many. Bikers. I’ll give it to them though, they make me feel bad when I see them pedaling up a hill. Every age does it too. When you see someone that is old enough to be your grandparent biking up the hill you’re driving, you’ll feel a new sense of awful about yourself.
  6. They have festivals for everything. This is no joke. There is a festival for everything. Pumpkins, mushrooms, you name it, but again I love it. Food, music, getting out of the house for a bit.
  7. You haven’t had pasta or pizza like this. And I mean it. Forget the big tourist cities, I’ve eaten there, and here in my small town, and they’re different. When you get away from those areas and off the beaten path or more local, I’m telling you, it’s magical. I love food, pizza has always been a love of mine, and they are doing it right here.IMG_7480
  8. Espresso. Italians love a good espresso. I’m more of a cappuccino girl myself, but I can appreciate the espresso. But lets be real, cappuccino is basically espresso with a little steamed milk foam and it’s delicious. Forget Starbucks (except PSL, I’m sorry I do miss that in the fall, yes I’m one of those), you want real coffee? Come to Italia!
  9. Potato chips are better here.  You may laugh at this last one, but seriously. There is just something about them! If you happen to come to Italy and you stumble across a Conad (a grocery chain), walk in and look for San Carlo potato chips. They are sooo much better than Lays. They are thicker and less greasy. I’m telling you, you won’t regret it.

 

Two Weeks in an Elephant Village

Have you ever taken a trip with little, to no thought?

March of 2016, I was scrolling through Facebook, when I came across a video showing different volunteer trips around the world. One in particular caught my eye, a trip spent working with elephants! Getting up close and personal with elephants was a dream of mine, so can this be real? O it was! I did a little more research on it. I went to the GoEco website that the video had given me and found a trip spent in Thailand working in a small elephant village. Side note: the actual company was We Are Bamboo, so should you look into a trip like this, you can just go straight to their site.  So, like most trips I go on….. I had no plan, didn’t really know how I was going to pay for it, or what to expect, I just knew I had to go. A few days later I booked the trip, bought plane tickets, and for the first few weeks in July I was going to Thailand!

Let me tell you, I regret nothing.

How could I? I was in for an experience that not many people are able to have in their life.

July came and after nearly 30 hours of traveling, I had made it to Bangkok. There I met the people that I would be spending the next few weeks with, some of the best people. By the end of our traveling experience we became a small family. They are what helped to really make the trip what it was. We stayedphoto (1) in this small hotel on a busy street with lots of shopping, food and not far from Khao San Road. This road had some awesome night life if you are looking for something to do into the wee hours of the night.

After that weekend, we took a train to Surin, Thailand for the night where we stayed in the Bamboo projects house for volunteers. The evening was spent in a Reggae bar listening to live music and drinking waaay too much Chang beer.

Bright and early the next morning we traveled to the elephant village, the place we would call home during the week. It’s a small village where families own and care for their own elephants. It’s here that they are trying to bring volunteers in to help promote the safety and well-being of the elephants.

Here in this village with it’s dirt roads, there is no WiFi, there is no air conditioning, and showers are taken by dumping water on you from a bucket (the bucket is also how you flush the toilet). All the volunteers stay in homes that families in the village are kind enough to open up to us. We slept on mats with mosquito nets covering them and a fan to turn on at night to help keep you cool because let me tell you, even if you think you know heat and humidity, you don’t. There is no heat or humidity like that of Thailand.

Thailand humidity: 7         My hair: 0

It is definitely a little bit of a culture shock from the Western world, but it was the best kind of shock. When you lose all the other stuff that creates distractions in life, all that’s left is time spent talking, laughing, getting to know other people from around the world, playing cards, and maybe a little more drinking of Chang than we should.

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The next week was spent cutting and planting bamboo, walking the elephants every day to the river to give them a bath, visiting where the “poo-paper” is made and helping to make the paper, kayaking, playing with the local children in the school yard, going to the Wednesday night market (which had the BEST fried chicken), and enjoying each others company. And there is nothing like the feeling of a cold bucket shower after a hot and sticky day of cutting bamboo.

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That weekend we had off, so I took this as an opportunity to put another stamp in the ole passport. A few of the girls and I decided to go to Siem Reap, Cambodia. There they have numerous temples that you can visit, to include the well known Angkor Wat, or if you want, Ta Prohm (if you really want to channel your inner Lara Croft). If you are looking for a hostel to stay at while there, I recommend the Funky Flashpacker. They have both private rooms, as well as, community style sleeping accommodations. The hostel is centered around a pool, there is always something going on there, you can meet so many people from around the world, and they have some pretty delicious avocado on toast for breakfast. You can get a tuk-tuk driver for the whole day for about $20. They will drive you to all and any temples in the area. And at night you can stay and enjoy the night life at the hostel or walk over to Pub Street and explore the night life there.

photoAfter a quick, jam packed weekend, we returned to the village for another week. Two weeks flew by and before I knew it, I was back in Bangkok preparing for the flight home. One more night was spent out for a bit on Khao San Road and the next day I had to say some of my hardest goodbyes. In those short few weeks, I developed strong relationships. We became a small family. You spend 24/7 with people you’ve never met and in a short time, you feel as though you have known them forever.

(This blog post and few pictures, doesn’t even begin to do this adventure justice. But I was trying to spare you from reading a novel of a blog post. Should anyone be interested, I’m happy to share more.)

Trips like this, force you out of your comfort zones. Force you to experience life in a different way. Force you to meet and create relationships with people.

In the end, the best trips are usually the ones that aren’t well thought out and they usually end up being the most unforgettable.

Does anyone have any unforgettable trips they’ve taken? I’d love to hear them! And maybe get an idea for somewhere I haven’t been, but need to go!

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S.O.S

I have to be honest, my reasons for starting this blog are selfish.

Yes, I have lived overseas before. Yes, I have traveled plenty. Yes, I have spent as long as a month away from home when traveling. This situation, however, is a first for me.

I grew up in a military family. Both of my parents were officers in the Air Force, my brother is a pilot for the Air Force, and my husband is also Air Force. The military lifestyle is not new to me.

My husband’s next assignment is in Aviano, Italy and we leave in less than a month! It’s getting so close! I’ve been to Italy before and loved it! It’s a beautiful country! The Cinque Terre, Rome, the Tuscan region, Venice (which we only be an hour train ride away from). Aviano will be a first though. I’m excited for a new adventure and a chance to travel again.

As excited as I am for all of the life changes happening, I also have some pretty serious anxiety. Everyone keeps saying how lucky I am or how jealous they are. Yes, this is exciting and I do consider myself lucky to have an experience like this, however, with this comes the loss of other things.

I am not military myself. I am…..was…. a second grade teacher, but had to quit, obviously. Of course this was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I love my husband and I understand with things like this, his career will come first. Buuut, quitting my job with nothing else lined up at the moment is scary! Am I the only one who thinks that? Yes, yes, I have my husband to support me in the mean time, but it’s a little terrifying to not be self sufficient anymore. My job was a big part of my life and having to start over in a job or career creates a lot of anxiety.

This will also be the first time that I will be far away from my family. My brother and sister-in-law live in Charleston, my mom lives here too. I will be a first time aunt in October, which I am so overjoyed about!  Here comes more anxiety though! I will fly home in time to welcome her into the world, but then I will have to leave again. I hate the idea of missing so much of her first little bit of life. It’s also hard to make peace with the fact that I won’t be able to see my family as often as I do now. In 27 years, I’ve never gone more than a month without seeing them.

There’s the anxiety of making sure that my fur baby makes it to Italy safely. There’s the anxiety of being alone for a lot of the time we are there. There’s the anxiety of what I will do for a job. There’s the anxiety that our furniture won’t arrive for two months and we will be living in an empty house.

There’s. Anxiety.

So, I started a blog. See? Selfish. I felt this was a way to share those anxieties. To help get them out and to hopefully find other people who are in, or have already, experienced similar anxiety. It’s always nice to know you aren’t alone in your mental breakdowns and to learn how others got through it. If nothing else, maybe someone will find my sharings helpful, or hey! Maybe just find it interesting and enjoy reading it!

And if there is anyone else out there going through something similar, or having a mildly controlled panic attack, know you aren’t alone. In Charleston, SC, there is a woman sitting at her computer, in her room, typing her blog, quietly having a minor breakdown herself. 😉

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What exactly is “fernweh?”

As you read the title of my blog page, you’re probably wondering, “What exactly is “fernweh?” It’s a word to describe a feeling. It’s one of my favorite words. A word that a lot of you may be able to relate to.

This word is a German word, where the ‘w’ is pronounced as a ‘v.’ I love it because I come from a German background, both my Oma and Opa were born and raised in Germany, and I was lucky enough to have lived there for 5 amazing years. The German runs deep in this one. But this word, I think, is the most beautiful. With the most beautiful translation…

fernweh – the ache for distant places; the craving for travel

How beautiful is that? The ache for distant places. The craving for travel.

FullSizeRender (3)If you have ever traveled then you might be familiar with this ache. Once you step outside your world, go travel, and experience other places, you come back changed. And each time you leave and come back, you change more. You might even find yourself after awhile, getting this aching feeling inside you. The feeling that you need to go see and experience more of what the world has to offer, because this world has SO much to offer.

Moving to Germany was the best thing that could have happened to me. It’s where my love affair with traveling started. Our love affair is nearly 20 years strong. 30 European countries, parts of Asia, and Australia….. that ache is a constant pulse pumping through my veins. I’m constantly craving for the next adventure. The next corner of the globe to discover.

Before we knew other places existed, there was one tool that aided travelers in their explorations of the world (other than stars). The compass. It helped early explorers find where they were going, even if they weren’t sure where they were going.

Be like them in your travels. You don’t have to be sure of where you are going. Just go. Even if you’ve never traveled before. Even if you just travel to the state next to yours, or even a town near yours that you’ve never been to. The point is go. You won’t regret the places and experiences you’ve had. You’ll only regret the places you don’t see or the experiences you let pass you by. But once you go, I guarantee you will also find your “fernweh.”