Posts Tagged With: romance

One day gourmet road-trip in the Somme The France tourist don’t see….. by Marie Drouvin

France dessertWhen it comes to France, I know that most foreigners think of Paris and Provence. However, I was born in Amiens, the capital of the Somme, one of the departments of Picardy, one of the 22 original regions of France. Since 2015, the 22 regions became 13 and Picardy was fused with the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the northernmost region of France. The Somme is the central 1 department of the new big region. Even if Paris is not that far, everything here is different. Think of the north as being the complete opposite of the south, culturally and culinary.

France Amiens

Here are a few things you should know: take a coat, your sunscreen, some walking shoes and a good camera. Be ready to see a lot: old, new, sad, happy, funny, natural and human made, the Somme is modelled on the human life.

Are you ready ?
From Paris, we pass Beauvais and we enter in the Somme. As we go on, the landscape slowly transitions. Meadows become rarer, the horizon spreads and you can now see quite far. From time to time the car passes next to a group of gigantic wind turbines. We are in the middle of agricultural land. Depending on the season the colours change: Summer is full of warm wheat golds and dark greens; Autumn of earthly browns and oranges; Winter of dark greys ; and Spring of crisp flowery yellows and bright greens. One thing is sure though, we won’t eat tomatoes and olive oil.

France sheep

Suddenly on the horizon a mountain ! And as we get closer, it isn’t anymore. It’s a white building. We are arriving in Amiens, and this building is its crown: the Cathedral of Our Lady. If you thought Notre Dame of Paris was magnificent, wait until you see Amiens’. It is twice as big, three times more decorated and a million times more beautiful. Amiens was once a glorious medieval city, and there were plenty of houses still standing at the beginning of the XXth century. Unfortunately, almost everything was destroyed in the two wars. Lucky for us, the Cathedral is still standing.

France Cathedral

Ah well ! All that medieval grandiosity whet our appetites. Time to eat ! And to find restaurants in Amiens, I know the best neighbourhood: Saint Leu. Further down the Cathedral, along the river Somme, Saint Leu is the oldest area of the city, stuffed with nice little restaurants and picturesque houses. No, the man in the river isn’t real, it is just a statue (dressed by first years of the universities each year as an initiation).  Choose a restaurant with the Ficelle Picarde on its menu. That is the most traditional dish around
here. A savoury crepe is stuffed with a piece of ham and finely chopped mushrooms mixed with béchamel sauce. It is rolled, sprinkled with cheese and put in the oven. Pure delight !  Disclaimer : to compensate our lack of oil, we use generous quantities of butter.

France Ficell Picarde For someone with a sweet tooth I would recommend Amiens’ oldest speciality : the macaron. Careful though ! It is not the macaron you probably have heard of. This one is not a meringue, it is rather a biscuit made with almond paste, eggs whites and honey (and sometimes fruits). Have a look around the Trogneux chocolaterie. 2 Full already ?

Let’s go back to the car and en route pour Abbeville! But before let’s stop in a little village called Quesnoy-le-Montant to taste another speciality : the Gâteau Battu (the beaten cake). I don’t know if I should tell you what the ingredients of this fluffy brioche are, but let’s say it involves a LOT of butter and quite a few egg yolks. The cakes are cooked in a high mould, giving them an unmistakable shape. More than its little vanilla taste, it is the texture you would be ready to sell your soul for. 3

France gatteau

1 https://www.frenchentree.com/news/map-of-france-redrawn/

2 http://www.trogneux.fr/boutique/liste_produits.cfm?type=6&code_lg=lg_fr

To digest a bit, let’s walk along the Somme. You will notice the many canal locks all along the river. It is actually possible to walk on a fully pedestrian path from Peronne (further East than Amiens) to Saint Valery sur Somme (mouth of the river Somme). It is the old towing path and it stretched on 120km.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

France bay of somme

Back in the car, and still following the river, the landscape changes again. We left the plateaus of Picardy in Amiens to follow the Valley of the Somme. Here we see a few meadows but mainly marshes. Chances are, you will spot quite a few animals: herons, hares, roes, hawks and pheasants.

Once in Abbeville, we can visit one of its many sites: the tiny but worthy museum of Boucher de Perthes, the Saint Sepulcre Church with modern stained-glass windows, or the Belfry. Let’s slow down and enjoy ourselves at the terrace of a café. We will taste the sweetness of the Picardy apple in a juice or something less common, a rhubarb nectar. This sparkling drink, very low in alcohol, is appreciated during the traditional french apéro, a snack centred around a drink before dinner. All gathered around the table, let me explain something about the region.

As you may have guessed already, the northern climate isn’t favourable to grape culture. And therefor, no traditional wine. Although we have abundance of something else: barley. The north of France, as Belgium and England, is a great producer of beers. You can taste local small brewerie beers around the Somme. Just ask for a El Belle, a Gueule Cassée Ambrée, Blonde or a Poppy. The Poppy beer is said to have a First World War taste. Do you know why the english chose the poppy as they commemorative flower ? Because it was the first flower to grow on the graves of their soldiers. It gave birth to a legend. Where there is a poppy, an english soldier fell. The colours at the beginning of summer will never let us forget about the massacre that was the Great War.

On a more joyful note: dinner! And I am taking you back to the car in the direction of the coast. Once again, the landscape is changing. The closer we get to our destination, the less common the scenery becomes. You won’t believe me but sometimes the sea covers the meadows up to the side of the road. And depending on the season, sheep are grazing the salty grass. Those sheep are a speciality around here: the pré salé lamb. It is a meat less strong than a regular lamb, and more tender. We are arriving in the bay of the Somme, the most poetic place around. The bay is a refuge for birds, traditions and mist. Picture vast stretches of white sand. Then imagine it even more vast. You would be half way through getting the real picture. Le Crotoy and Saint Valery are at both side of the bay, sometimes you can walk across the bay from one to another, sometimes.. not often. The tides are enormous. The water is a mix of fresh and salted. It is truly a place of transition. The perfect weather to discover it is a greyish, misty kind of day, with a bit of wind.

France Le crotoyLe Crotoy is a small fishing town, with a charming market. If you want tradition and authenticity this is the right place. Small local based restaurants, houses of dark red brick, and a long stretch of fine sand for a beach. The speciality ? Mussels. If you fancy something a bit more classy, I’ll take you to Saint Valery. Unlike Le Crotoy, Saint Valery is a town for upper class vacations. The marina is full of small white boats, apart from a few more authentic ones. Although, Saint Valery will offer you the best in terms of food. The market is filled with interesting stalls and shops that sell local products. If we have time, we will check out the tea shop and its wonderful smells, and the sweet shop, because they have lollipops of all flavours (poppy, cantaloupe, rose, mint, apricot, strawberry, violet..). In terms of history both villages have their share. But Saint Valery stands out for her myriad of famous names: Victor Hugo, Toulouse-Lautrec, Jules Verne, Edgar Degas, William the Conqueror who went on to invade England and Joan of Arc before she was send to be burned in Rouen.

Regardless of which town you would have chosen, you will have a great time.
http://joepastry.com/2011/3 gateau-battu-recipe/
http://www.somme-tourisme.com/amiens-et-autres-histoires/histoire-du-gateau-battu

And it is on this last thought and after a final tasty lollipop that I will say: Goodbye!

A note from Joe:  HI everyone!  I am super excited to bring you this article from our uber talented writer, Marie Drouvin. I visited with Marie about her homeland and her passion about the beauty, history, and culture was overwhelming. I said “we must write this article”. I KNEW it would be good and I wasn’t wrong. Marie, through her writing brings us to the ancient cobblestone streets and the sites and aromas of Northern France, a France that almost no tourist will ever find. Bon appetit’!

About world Traveling Joe:  Joe markets memberships in a traveling social club that enjoys  over 1,000,000 members. He aggregates all things travel for super volume buying power. Members can choose from over 10,000 dream trips each year at prices that average 60% less than general internet pricing. PRICE GUARANTEE:  If you purchase a trip and find it cheaper within 7 days, you get a FULL REFUND and go on the trip for free!  see more http://www.worldtravelingjoe.com  http://www.worldtravelingjoe.dreamtrips.com/refer

Credits:  This article written by Ms. Marie Drouvin, Guest Writer. https://www.linkedin.com/in/marie-drouvin-528229140/

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Conscious Cruising…. The one rule.

CruiseShipPollution.V2

Surely with that many people going on cruise each year it can’t be that wrong ? Can it ? Well can it ? Of course, going on a cruise is an exceptional experience. Everyday a new horizon, no need to travel hours in a uncomfortable coach, facilities on board, themed parties, and a certain inimitable lifestyle. But as travelers we should also ask ourselves this question: at what cost ?

These giant monsters of the sea represent a growing part of the global tourism industry. 24.2 million passengers last year to be exact, and a expectation of even more in 2017 (http://www.cruising.org/docs/default-source/research/2016_clia_sotci.pdf?sfvrsn=0) ! Let’s put that into context, it is 6 million more than the number of tourist Canada welcomed in 2016.

It would be naive of us to believe something as huge as those cruisers to be harmful on sea life. Every activity onboard produces waste of one form or another : food, oil, sewage, chemicals, etc… In fact even the noise of the engines is causing damages to marine life (http://www.marineinsight.com/environment/effects-of-noise-pollution-from-ships-on-marine-life/). They do not only have a huge impact on the environment, they also have harmful consequences on the passengers’ health. A french documentary recently measured air quality on a cruise ship. The results are alarming. What passengers breathe on the deck is 60 times more concentrated in harmful air pollutants than in a normal environment, making it 20 times worse than in an animated city center ! (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/news/air-pollution-levels-200-times-higher-on-cruise-ships/) Anyone for a  tanning session on the sun deck ?

If you are a bit like me, what you enjoy most about traveling is the thrill of discovery. Hear this. Quite literally, in August 2016 an enormous cruiser destroyed a little Sicilian marina. (http://www.ybw.com/news-from-yachting-boating-world/carnival-vista-cruise-ship-wake-damages-marina-sicily-41526) Despite the believable justifications of the cruise company, the damage echoes to what could happen in Venice one day or another. What would there be left to discover if the travel industry is destroying its best assets ? Cruisers are fogging up London even more. They are shaking Venice’s fragile foundations. They are chasing away the notable Caribbean sea life. The list goes on.

Cruise companies will tell you: «We produce business. We make those destinations live. They would be nothing to discover if we weren’t investing in it.». And yes, to a certain extent it is true. But think about it. It also means, the travel industry, and I insist on the word ‘industry’, is ruling destinations we seek for their particularities. It condemns sites to be sites. It freezes them in a artificial frame. And when it comes to the economical repercussions, there again it is arguable. Many locals, in France, Mexico or elsewhere, are living from the tourism industry. B&Bs, hotels and restaurants are not made full by the arrival of all-inclusive cruisers. And the rest replies on the cruise companies to bring tourists.

Fjords_of_Norway-1

Now, that being said, I personally think cruises can be enjoyed. How to cruise with minimal impact ? One simple rule: Scale down. Nowadays, there is a myriad of small-scaled cruises, ready to take you on the next big adventure. A cruise where the ship is not the destination. A cruise that is not only better for you, but also hold a promise of sustainability for future generations. A cruise to enjoy the many adventures destinations can offer while taking steps to preserve such destinations. And if you thought you would be limited, think again. Whether it’s the Caribbeans (http://islandwindjammers.com/sailing-ship-sagitta.aspx), the Norwegian fjords, the mysterious Mekong (http://www.ewaterways.com/ship/angkor%20pandaw/gallery/) , Alaska (https://www.uncruise.com/why-us/our-fleet/wilderness-explorer) or Spain (http://www.adventure-life.com/mediterranean/cruises/11438/glories-of-spain-portugal#overview )… Joe will find you the perfect low-impact cruise !

Alaskan Cruise

The one rule is simple. Then it’s all up to you to enjoy your cruise, free of guilt.

A note from Joe: It is with great pleasure that I introduce Ms. Marie Drouvin. Ms. Drouvin recently joined the WTJ team as a guest travel writer. I am very impressed at her work and am delighted to have her working with us. Please be sure to view her credentials and follow her on social media. You will be hearing much more from her soon!

About world Traveling Joe:  Joe markets memberships in a traveling social club that enjoys  over 1,000,000 members. He aggregates all things travel for super volume buying power. Members can choose from over 10,000 dream trips each year at prices that average 60% less than general internet pricing. PRICE GUARANTEE:  If you purchase a trip and find it cheaper within 7 days, you get a FULL REFUND and go on the trip for free!

Credits:  This article written by Ms. Marie Drouvin, Guest Writer. https://www.linkedin.com/in/marie-drouvin-528229140/

Main Photo:  Joshua Barlow barlow@yesengine.com  ph: 202-460-9100

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Mardis Gras… RIO STYLE!

RIO CARNIVAL FESTIVAL 2017

By Vikki Loh

rio-carnival-2015-sao-clemente

Rio is best known for the Rio Carnival Festival every February.  This year, the festival runs from February 18 –March 5.  The beautiful parades begin February 24th and tickets are available NOW. Thousands of people attend.  There is so much to see and do during Carnival Festival time. There are many balls, galas, samba competitions, and street parades. Feel free to join the march or  just sit back and watch the fun.

Of course, there is LOTS of dancing at Carnivale….. from the streets to ball room and if you don’t know how to dance?  That’s okay!  Visit one of the dance schools in Rio.  The schools don’t have really quick classes in how to dance but you’re welcome to watch and see if you can pick it up yourself.  The dance competitions for the schools are one of the biggest events during the Carnival Festival time.

Besides the nightlife, during the day, if you want to relax and sip a cool drink, the beautiful beaches are yours for the taking.  The women of Rio are beautiful and the men are handsome.

If you want to take a break from all of the festivities during Carnival time, please visit Sugarloaf Mountain.  This is a must see!  You take a cable car up to the top of the mountain for breath-taking views of Rio!

Many celebrities come to Rio to entertain.American concerts are big, but not like RIO. Sir Rod Stewart packed the Copacabana area with 3,500,000  revelers.  Barry Manilow wrote a song about Copacabana, simply titled,”Copacabana.”  American artist at Carnivale always  brings tourism and business to Rio.

rio-5

History of Rio:  (formally – Rio de Janeiro Brazil)

Landing in Guanabara Bay on January 1st, 1502, the Portuguese Royal family claimed the Rio Provence for their own. Because of the way the bay forms the opening of a river, this region was called Rio De Janeiro, which means. “River of January”.  Shortly after, many battles were fought.  Many countries wanted this region for the own, especially, the French.  After fighting for 2 years, the French lost.  To protect the country from more battles, the city was moved to a safer position on a hill, which was later named as Castle Hill.

Sugarcane, gold, diamonds, and coffee were the country’s main staples in the early 1700s.  The sugarcane plantations dwindled when other countries started to farm sugarcane as well.  Once gold and diamonds were discovered in Rio, many neighboring countries tried to take over Rio.  When the gold and diamond mines dried up, Rio had to find other economic resources to sustain their country.  Rio started exporting coffee.  Many coffee plantations sprouted up and became Rio’s next source to supplement their economic situation.  The coffee boom brought great wealth to the city..

rio-7

 Where to Stay:

Are you on a budget or do you always go for the luxury hotels wherever you go or are you in the middle?  Rio offers everything from the most luxurious places to stay to the clean, nice budget places to stay.  It just depends on what you want.

But be sure and stay in a safe region like the Southern region of Rio.  Copacabana, Ipanema and Lebion are the safest and most beautiful places to stay while in Rio for the Carnival.  Especially, Ipanema and Lebion.

If your budget does not allow this, your next option is to stay in Botafogo, Lapa and Flamengo.  Although these places are more in the downtown area of Rio, they are within 15-20 minutes of Copacabana and Ipanema.  During Carnival time, the subway is an option to travel since they run 24-hours a day.

rio-jesus

Getting There:

There are many international hubs in Rio.  It is easy to get there.  There are many public transportation systems to take once you are there.

I have never been to Rio.  After writing this article, I now want to go!  Even by myself!

About the Author:  Vikki Loh is an accomplished, published travel writer based in Southern California. She writes travel articles, publishes a travel blog and a video VLOG. Vikki is also a medium. She frequently hunts for and communicates with the spirits and writes very entertaining and informative articles about the subject. She can be reached at:  Vikki Loh vlinorangecounty@gmail.com   Follow Vikki:  https://www.facebook.com/vikki.lohberri.1

 

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Family Winemaking in Italy….. it ALWAYS begins with a bottle of wine!

italian-family-winemaking

Family Wine Making in Italy. Beautiful words. I am proud to say that I have PERSONALLY experienced it, drinking it at least. I wish I could say I had been part of the process but enjoying the final product will have to suffice.

Rome, Florence, Venice I must say are insanely beautiful but are wine tourist traps. But, it doesn’t have to be that way but you have to be a savvy consumer and learn a couple important Italian words – Nonno del vini or vini di famiglia. These are your keys to the BEST FAMILY WINES of Italy. You will find it is also the best price, if you get charged at all!

Making Wine the “FAMILY WAY”

Typically it all starts with a discussion over a healthy serving of Sopressatta, Copa, Proscuitto, Romano, Asiago, Fontina and Focaccia.  Typical Italian Charcuterie and cheeses. There are many topics to cover. Where will we get the fruit, who will do the various tasks of de-stemming, crushing, pressing and bottling. The process usually looks like this:

grapes-2Source the Grapes:  Mamma, Papa or Grandpa knows best.

There are over 3,000 different Italian varietals. Basically any area can lay claim to their own grape because it is grown there (Of course, classifed wines may differ but this discussion is for family home made wines). Given the number of varietals, very little time is spent on  that subject… it is just “known” that Aunt Sicilia has good grapes on her property or many other “known” sources. Who cares what you call it, just call it GREAT WINE!

grape-stompingCrush: Italians like their women FULL BODY just like their wine.

The crush is a BIG DAY in the life of a wine and YES they still stomp grapes. Of course the contemporary new generations of people have opted for newer methods but there are still MANY home wineries that STOMP the grapes. WHY?  Well, it’s actually better for the grapes. The soft tissue of the feet “cushion” the press of the grape that minimizes bruising of the skins.  The desired result is to extract the juice without pulverizing the skins and releasing what you don’t want. Bigger women, Bigger softer feet, Bigger and more balanced wine – you get the picture.

Fermentation:  The NOBLE ROT.

Many Italian family wine makers have no idea about all of the contemporary and sophisticated yeast strains. They simply allow the grapes to use organic wild yeast that is natural to the vinicultural area and the decomposition of the grapes, hence NOBLE ROT. In fact a widely used practice was to let the grapes go to a mild rot on the vine to get the fermentation started. Yes, fermentation actually started the initial phase on the vine. Today, there are fine examples of this used for higher brix level dessert wines. Wine families do have their own yeast strains that have been passed for generations.

demijohn

Aging and Bottling:  What do we have to put this wine in?

This is probably the most varied part of the Italian Family process. The most popular ageing and bottling methods include demijohns which are 5-7 gallon glass jugs (hence the moniker “JUG WINE) glass bottles, glass jars and wine bags.  These wines are meant to be consumed SOON after the process is complete, therefore not much use of further aging methods such as wine barrels.

il-latini-restaurantOrdering Wine in Italy:  Tourist wine or Lafamiglia Vini?

My first few days in Italy I learned a valuable lesson. You are either a dumb wealthy tourist or Uno dei bravi ragazzi (one of the god guys). The waiter will ALWAYS assume the former. You will be presented an English written menu and wine list. Here is your GOLDEN TIP. Ask for these menus printed in Italian (c’mon- you know the word Lasagna!). Of course unless you really do speak Italian you won’t be able to understand the wine list…. but you don’t have to. Just look it over carefully, then look at the waiter and say one of these two phrases:  Nonno del vini OR vini di famiglia. You are asking for GRANDPA’S WINE or THE FAMILY WINE. I like to use both phrases one after the other… and chuckle. Your phrase will be met with a warm smile, probably the best wine you will get in Italy, and a check that may not even have a charge for wine!  ENJOY MY FRIENDS!

Contact Joe and Follow Joe: joe@worldtravelingjoe.com

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NYE Times Square: Joe’s Adventure & Survival Guide

Hello fellow Travelers!

I thought I should offer a few hints, a few do’s, a few don’ts for making a trip to Times Square for the big party an enjoyable one.

First let me say…. EVERYONE walking upright in this big beautiful world of ours should spend at least one New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I mean, really….  can you legitimately go to meet your maker having not checked this one off your bucket list?  I almost think that angel at the gate just doesn’t let you pass until………

World Traveling Joe’s Time Square NEW YEARS EVE Adventure and Survival Guide.

In general I am not a guy that stays up really late unless in Barcelona. I am the kind of guy that likes to plan things out to get the most of every experience. This is a story of a GREAT PLAN going BAD fast.  Hopefully you can learn and will be RICHLY rewarded with a WONDERFUL Times Square experience.

Dinner at Tao at 6PM:  This was a GREAT DECISION. Food was incredible and the people watching SUPERB. Lots of celebs LOVE this $70 million revenue restaurant.

Broadway Play: OK, I was thinking, go to a play keep awake until things start heating up in Times Square. Probably time for dessert and after dinner drinks before heading into the zoo (oops meant Times Square). This initially was a GREAT decision, that is until walking out after the play. A cabbie informed us that all the streets had already been closed off and no reason for a cab. We started walking just the few blocks to Times Square but found that those streets were closed to pedestrian traffic too, even to people dressed in REALLY NICE in theatre clothes. We arrived WAY below times square after a 2 hour jigsaw puzzle of walking about 2.5 miles. The wifey was clearly not excited about my grandiose plan for the evening when she just walked over 2 miles in high heels! GOOD PLAN GONE REALLY BAD.

Ball Drop:  A policeman was nice enough to move a few feet so that we could squeeze by and get a rocking back and forth view of the ball drop. It was extraordinary in all its’ splendor.  VERY GOOD DECISION even though we were SUPER tired of walking.

HEADING TO THE HOTEL: This proved to be one of the worst experiences of my life. I am claustrophobic (don’t like to be in tight places). We started toward our hotel and the crowd PUSHED us almost two blocks away with absolutely no choice on our part. You see, when 2-3 million people want to go one way and you want to go the other it really doesn’t matter, you are “going with the flow” or getting trampled. I am thankful I am tall so I could hold my above others or not sure what I would have done. It is the only time I have actually had thoughts of fearing for my life. We finally got behind a large column and just stayed there until the majority of the crowd dissipated (high heels off in 28 degree weather at that point). We finally arrived at our hotel at approximately 3AM.

Hint’s:   (Oh heck these are MANDATORY!)

The streets will start closing at noon. Plan your evening and route accordingly. Plan your return route. If you are taking a cab into the city – get there before 3PM to save the first stage of walking. Wear denim and COMFORTABLE shoes. Dress warm and bring pocket warmers. Bring a raincoat or other liquid resistant outwear. If it doesn’t rain you will CERTAINLY be doused by all sorts of beverages and that is 100% guaranteed. Bring snacks. Nearby restaurants will start closing by 3PM. Mentally get psyched for NO BATHROOM. I don’t have a good tip for this but I think there are 2 million people trying to get into 2 porta potties – ain’t happening. Find a spot to stand that has some vertical cover in case of a crowd rush, preferably far enough away to have at least 1ft x 1ft of standing space. Do not have loose items:  Example if you drop your cell phone there is some risk of not being able to pick it up. As it grows closer to midnight the crowd starts pushing harder and harder toward the ball drop. EXPECT super crowded conditions.

WOW! I hope I didn’t scare you. You do have to experience it yourself. Just be prepared. Just Like Gilligan thought he was out for a 3 hour tour! And see what happened to him!

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NYE Tokyo Style!

TOKYO

Happy new year: ‘Akemashite omedetou!’

Japan celebrates New Year in a similar way that we do Christmas in the US, by staying at home with family.  In the run-up to December 31, many Tokyo residents leave the capital to return to their traditional family homes. Tradition dictates that they spend the evening watching NHK’s Kohaku, a marathon TV show in which J-pop stars reprise the year’s most nauseating hit singles. If you’re wanting to do NYE like the westerners, there’s still plenty to do, and it’s the one day of the year when the public transport keeps running all night long. The best place to be for the countdown itself is probably at Shibuya crossing, which turns draws thousands of people at midnight. Afterwards, many people head to a local club to finish the revlry (try the Womb or Sound Museum Vision). Others partake in the first shrine visit of the year (hatsumode) paying homage to the forefathers. you could head to a local club like Womb or Sound Museum Vision, or else go and join the first shrine visit of the year (hatsumode). Then of course take in breakfast via sushi tree! Then just nap the day away!

     The Womb Night Club

  The Womb Night Club
   A typical Breakfast Brunch Sushi tree!
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GLAMPING: Is that a word? Or just a REAL HOUSEWIFE word?

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I grew up CAMPING. I mean canvas tents, Coleman stoves and lanterns. Spending the evening around a camp fire that we actually built from sticks and limbs and logs we found that was started with a piece of rich pine (Ask me what that is)…. joyously listening to the crickets, frogs, and other wildlife while enjoying a gooey S’more (you better know what that is). This was REAL camping. It was even sort of real when we added a Keg (yes-that’s beer) to our list of supplies. COLLEGE days did sneak in there, so it seemed appropriate.

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Now enter the world of GLAMPING. Pardon me city slickers, but what the hell is that? Now understand, I live in the city now, with fresh cut grass, a nice wine cellar and a real pool in the backyard but GLAMPING. Give me a break!  Just a question girls….  did this term come from THE REAL HOUSEWIVES?  (in some parts REAL housewives can clean the fish and mow the yard – a topic for another blog!)   I am not sure where GLAMPING came from but WORLD TRAVELING JOE WANTS TO EXPLORE IT!

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If you are in need of an ENTIRELY different vacation experience or just a budget holiday you might try it, or if you want to slightly brush the outdoors then, maybe it’s time you booked yourself a few nights in one of the many luxury camping tents and cabins that qualify you as a GLAMPER.  Now… don’t try this if your natural manly instincts to brave the great outdoors, make your own fire and cook foil wrapped potatoes is what you really want to do but this could be a good transition if you are a beginner camper or even just want to try it once.

So what is glamping and what are the advantages?

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The home comforts

I do love the experience of traditional camping but I have to admit it is a nice change to be able to enjoy a few of the comforts of home too. Cold beer and wine in the fridge, a sink to wash up and a gas stove make things easy. The showers and toilets are much cleaner than generally available in campsites, although there is just no experience like bathing is a crisp and clear mountain stream. Also having tables indoors to play cards and board as well as somewhere to plug in the lap top  is another nice luxury – not like using an old fashioned picnic table but a nice luxury.

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The Kids

Kids LOVE camping and GLAMPING gives them the opportunity to experience the great outdoors without losing all of the amenities of a hotel. Typical GLAMPSITES (sorry – but I hate that word) have between 12 and 24 tents or cabins surrounding common areas. Most are situated near natural landmarks such as lakes, rivers, mountains and many offer lots of things to do like hiking, boating, kayaking and many other things. Some offer organized outdoors tours and natural education. All good for children and keeping yourself busy. The area is usually totally secure so you will feel really comfortable sitting outside your cabin sipping a nice cocktail or glass of wine watching the kids play, or if you’re anything like me then you can feel free to jump in and have a bit of fun too.

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The cost 

A great thing about glamping is the cost. You can expect to pay somewhere between $15 and $50 per night depending on the level of amenities that you desire. Of course if you go REAL HOUSEWIFE STYLE then that might be as expensive as the Ritz Carlton…. but of course you would get an Italian cabin Boy named Eduardo and an unending supply of wine!  I suggest going lower end with just the amenities you think you MUST have so that you can indeed experience the great outdoors. Comparatively you will pay half or less of the cost of a usual hotel room.

GLAMPING:  It’s not camping in the true sense of the word but guess what… I LIKE IT! Maybe I am tired of being Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett (OK – dated myself a little then!) and am ready for a little work to be done for me. AND if you are not a regular camper with all the gear clean and ready to go, it can be a painful experience to get ready. Think… more time getting ready than actually camping = NO FUN.  GLAMPING is great middle ground.

With any vacation travel it is all about the people you are with and the experiences you have.

LET’S GO GLAMPING!

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What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

Thanksgiving Leftover Macaroni & Cheese

Prep Time: 20min

Cooking Time: 40min

Total Time: 1hr 10min

Servings: 8

This is definitely the cheesiest way to enjoy all of your Thanksgiving holiday leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound Shredded turkey meat
  • 1 cup Leftover stuffing (optional)
  • 3 Medium size sweet potatoes, cut into small dices, cooked in salted water till tender
  • 1 cup Cooked peas
  • ½ Onion, chopped
  • 5 Sage leafs, minced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup Leftover cranberry relish (optional)
  • 1½ quarts Milk
  • ¼ cup Butter
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 4 cups Grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Fontina cheese

Preparation

Step 1

In a large pot add butter, onion, sage and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Step 2

Add flour, whisk and cook for another 5 minutes.

Step 3

Add milk and continue to whisk till mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Step 4

After milk has thickened, whisk in the mascarpone, fontina and one cup of the cheddar cheese.

Step 5

Once cheese melts and sauce becomes smooth, fold in the turkey meat, sweet potatoes, peas and pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6

Place pasta mixture in a 3-inch baking dish, cover with remaining cheddar cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes till golden brown.

Step 7

Serve with a tablespoon of cranberry relish.

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Walk Butt Naked on the Beach! And no one notice!

3 Seriously Sexy Travel Spots
What is a sexy destination? In my book, these are qualities that always rock my travel libido:
 Undiscovered: There ain’t nothing sexier than being able to walk down the beach butt naked without having a million pairs of eyes checking out what mother nature gave ya. Or, to saunter through a town square without having to fight your way through a throng of postcard shops and tourists.
Sensual cuisine: Think juicy fruit, young coconuts and fresh caught fish. I love being able to walk out my door and pick a succulent papaya, drink down some delicious thai coconut water or watch the sunset with some fresh grilled fish.
Steeped in Tradition: There is something incredibly sexy about cultures that are focused on preserving the “old ways.” Making things by hand, using all their senses, weaving offerings out of flowers, making feta by hand, picking your own herbs for brewing, bakeries that actually bake their own bread… sexy, sexy, sexy.
Topography: Undulating hills, blazing hot sun over a vista of sand and stone, dense jungles teeming with exotic flora and fauna, breathtaking deserted beaches, fields of fragrant herbs and wildflowers.
Well, now that I’ve laid out my criteria for a sexy destination, I’d like to share with you a few of my absolute faves that really get me going:
1. Ko Lanta, Thailand: A big part of what keeps this destination so damn sexy is that it is a bitch to get to. Ko Lanta is an island, so no matter how you slice it, you have to take a combination of planes, trains, buses and ferries to get there. But, what’s a little effort when heaven on earth awaits on the other side?
Chinese pole houses dot the breathtaking shoreline, and you can easily hire a boat for day excursions to remote islands and hidden caves. Ko Lanta is a stone’s throw by boat from the luxe tourist haven of Phi Phi… so it’s really the best of both worlds. Mango House has awesome traditional pole houses on the water, and Sun Island Tours has the best boat tours around. The village itself is traditional with some of the hottest – literally – food around. Lemongrass, basil, cilantro and chilies abound. Also, seriously, this place has the sexiest coconuts on earth.
2. San Salvador, Costa Rica: Costa Rica is synonymous with sexy: beaches for days, jungles with monkeys, sloths and exotic birds and fresh, delicious food at every turn. Costa Rica’s natural sensuality has been both a blessing and a curse. Now, people are catching on, and many areas of Costa Rica run the danger of becoming extremely unsexy.
But, there are still a few hidden, tucked-away gems that really get my mojo going. There are a few awesome well known retreat centers in Dominical on the coast. But, when I’m in Costa Rica I like to go a little further. I land in San Jose and head for the hills. About one hour north of Dominical is a little mountain village called San Salvador. In an open forest clearing is Finka De Vida. This place is beyond sexy. Just about everything you eat is grown on their local farm. You have the choice of picking and preparing your own meals, juices and smoothies or having there chef do it for you. The menu is as raw as you want, or fully cooked. It’s up to you. Activities include yoga overlooking the jungle, bathing in the local waterfall and beach excursions. I promise you will feel so sexy you’ll never want to leave.
3. Lesvos, Greece: Lesvos is not called the island of women for nothing. If Santorini, with its active volcano and harsh landscape, is the masculine side of the Greek isles, then Lesvos is definitely one foxy lady.
Lesvos is where a lot of Greece’s olive oil comes from, so it is covered in olive groves as well as an abundance of cherry, apple, pistachio and pine trees. Because it is so far north, most people don’t know about Lesvos. In fact, it’s so far north you can take a ferry to Turkey in 30 minutes.
The island is filled with cobblestone mountain villages, forts, castles, Turkish hammams and nary a white and turquoise domed structure in site. The houses are built of wood and stone and have more of an Ottoman feel. Expect quiet beaches that you can explore “in the all together,” sleepy villages where homemade feta and bread are served, freshly grilled octopus for supper by the sea and horses and donkeys that you can ride through the mountain groves and pick your own herbs for supper or tea. I lived on Lesvos for four years, and I swear by its undeniable sexiness. There are many many wonderful places to stay on Lesvos. My absolute fave for authenticity and sexiness is Elainonas Nikou on the Gulf of Gera. Rojo Caliente!
Travel is a sexy sport. Don’t be a wall flower. Vow to never hit a homely destination again… between you and me, they don’t call it wanderlust for nothin’.

ASK JOE about an AWESOME travel deal to Lesvos, Greece. Think 7days 6 nights all inclusive for $599!

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The Backpack Life: How to Pack for 6 months abroad.

Think back to your last vacation. I bet your suitcases were so stuffed you had to sit on them just to get the zipper closed, and that was just for one week! Now imagine if you had to pack absolutely everything you needed for six months on the road, or even a year, and it all had to fit into one big backpack! That’s the challenge I face every time I head overseas for a live-in excursion to places like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, or even on a walkabout around the world for a year. Hell no, I’m not complaining — I get to live in the tropics like a beach bum and write my heart out, but packing every single possession I’ll need in a bag no bigger than a laundry sack becomes a Divinci-esque feat of science.

2013-08-01-images.jpgThe North Face Base Camp duffel bag/backpack.
It’s hard to find a backpack big enough to accommodate everything you need for a prolonged stay. Most mountaineering and hiking bags are only in the 3,500-4,500 cubic inch range, but the North Face makes an oversized duffel bag/backpack that holds about 8,000 cubic inches. It’s super durable and very roomy, with padded shoulder straps so I can throw it on like a backpack when needed. I haul it around bus stations and airports a lot more than actual wilderness excursions, so that works great.

Day pack.
I bring a regular-sized backpack to carry my laptop around, head to the beach, or take plenty of day trips. I use this smaller pack all day, every day so for this trip I chose a O’Neill Suburbia backpack because it has a laptop compartment, water bottle holder, and comfortable shoulder straps.

Clothing:

1 Pair lightweight jeans.

Flip flops.
I bring one good pair and one pair that can get wet for the beach. Reef makes some cool new flip flops that have a compartment in the sole so you can hide money or your room key. Genius!

1 Pair slip-on shoes:
Something light, breathable, and easy to slip on is fantastic in hot, beachy climates. I like my classic Vans, and Crocs makes some cool new waterproof shoes in funky designs that are much cleaner and safer because of their plastic soles.

Running sneakers.
A pair of running sneaks for working out, hiking, or if I have a big day sight seeing.

7 Tank tops.
When I first started traveling I brought too many t-shirts, but soon realized I wanted something as light and airy as possible in tropical climates, so now I load up on tank tops.

7 T-shirts.
I try to find the ones that aren’t pure cotton, which is heavier and doesn’t breathe when you sweat. One by one I cut the sleeves off my t-shirts, anyway!

3 Collared shirts.
I fit in a few short sleeve button-up shirt for those nights on the town or nicer dinners.

2013-08-01-935333100.jpg3 O’Neill Hybrid shorts/swim suits.
I used to pack several swim shorts and also bring a few pairs of normal cotton shorts, but Hybrid shorts changed that. They’re made of comfortable, breathable quick-drying material that can get wet, but look like nice dress shorts. They’re the best invention for travelers because you only have to pack half as much but can throw them on no matter if you’re going to work out, sweat, jump in the ocean, or just walk around town. I love the ones by O’Neill, which fit great and come in plenty of cool patterns.

4 Athletic shorts.

1 Baseball hat.
1 Fisherman hat.
I look goofy as Gilligan in it, but a big hat is your best friend on the beach at midday or in direct sun, where it’s easy to get heat stroke.

Socks and underwear.

Sunglasses.
I wear sunglasses most of the day when I’m outdoors, but I always seem to break or lose them, so I get a decent pair only in the $25 range. The good news is you can buy cheap sunglasses anywhere you go on the beach. I also bring a little cord to keep them on my head in case I’m kayaking or zip lining or doing something where they might fly off.

1 Comfy hooded sweatshirt.
A warm hoodie is essential for cold airplane rides, early morning trips on the water, or some nights as your only pillow and blanket!

Lycra long sleeve shirt.

Technology:

2013-08-01-photo.JPG laptop computer.

Travel adapter.
I bought one for $20 that lets me plug in my electronics in almost any country, and also acts as a surge protector for those frequent power outages.

2013-08-01-ScreenShot20130731at7.14.21PM.pngGoPro Hero 3 Black camera.
I recently converted from my jenky digital camera to a super fun Go Pro. It’s smaller than a deck of cards, has huge storage capacity and battery life, and fits into a shockproof case so I can take it over rough terrain or underwater. I can strap it to a surfboard, bicycle handlebars, or on a headgear clip while I’m getting my ass kicked in the boxing gym. I have a wifi remote so I can document the wonderment of traveling abroad in movie quality without holding a camera up to my eyes all the time, and I plan to expand my travel blog to a more-entertaining video blog.

iPhone.
Whenever I hit the road I suspend my US cell service for $10 a month, forwarding my number to Skype or GoogleVoice, but I still use my iPhone as a mini computer via local wifi, accessing apps that allow me to make calls, use GPS, a compass, translate languages on the fly, and serve as a killer flashlight.

Flash drives.
I’m paranoid about getting my laptop ruined or stolen and losing all of my data, so I back up daily on high-memory flash drives and hide them someplace safe.

2013-08-01-opplanetgoalzeroswitch8solarrechargingkit.jpg
GoalZero portable solar charger.
GoalZero, one of my new favorite companies, makes the Nomad 7, a portable solar charger that’s no bigger than a notebook. It unfolds into two panels that catch the sun and recharge my phone, GPS, camera, or MP3 player with a simple USB hookup. A separate recharger battery the size of a tube of toothpaste, the Switch 8, can be thrown into my backpack and gives my devices plenty of juice in case of an emergency or if I’m stuck out in the jungle. When that happens, and it will happen, a quick solar charge can literally be a life saver.

GoalZero portable speaker.
I listen to music 24/7 and the speakers on my laptop don’t cut it. But most mini speakers sounded like trash until I finally found a good one that is affordable and durable, with 20 hours of battery life, the RockOut 2 speaker by GoalZero. They come with a built in durable case and you can power them via your laptop, charge their internal battery, or even go solar.

2 Headphones.
One pair of earbuds and one over-the-head pair for jogging.

I bring a Tupperwear container to store my electronic accessories and twist ties to organize their cords and cables.

Work out:
I get back to basics on the road: pushups, burpees, etc., but I do bring a jump rope and a stretchy fitness band, which take up almost no room but are versatile for any-time workouts. Gymnastic rings also are easy to hook up anywhere for strength and balance conditioning.

I have an incredible trainer, Trevor Gibbs at Health Behaviors, who sets my workout plan virtually based on my natural elements, no matter where I am in the world!

Swim goggles.

Small gym towels.
I carry a little towel around with me everywhere I go to wipe the sweat away, dash through a rain storm, or even dry off after a dip in the ocean. These are great because it’s always super hot in the tropics and I sweat like… well, like a gringo in the tropics. I used to “borrow them permanently” from hotels, but I’ve since reformed and now I buy a pack.

Security:

Combo lock.
Once I settle down and get an apartment overseas I bolt a solid combo lock onto a railing or post near my front door and put my house key in it. That way I never have to carry around my key (a pain if you’re living near the beach) but I can get in any time.

I should use a laptop cable lock, but I prefer just to hide it in a ceiling panel or the bottom of the garbage can when I leave my hotel or apartment.

Likewise, instead of fancy false-bottom containers and security devices, I just hide my important stuff — passport, credit cards, flash drive, etc. in the bottom of a cereal box or hollowed-out can of peanuts.

Instead of wearing those dorky tourist money belts I just put money in the sole of my shoe.

Copies of travel papers.
I make copies of my passport, drivers license, and medical immunization card and keep them in a safe place. I also email photos of those to myself, along with credit card and bank information.

Toiletries and Medical:

Sanitizing toothbrush case.
Sanitation is always a question mark in third-world hotel bathrooms and hot, humid climates, a breeding ground for bacteria, so I bring the million germ eliminating travel toothbrush sanitizer by Violight. The case sanitizes 99 percent of germs and the battery lasts 2,000 hours! I found it in Hammacher & Schlemmer’s catalog on the airplane.

I carry around a Z Pack of antibiotics in case of severe stomach sickness, and a course of anti-malarial meds if I’m going deep into the jungle.

A few packs of Emergen-C’s come with me to so I don’t get sick with all that nasty fake air on the plane or when I’m fighting off exotic germs in my new locale.

I bring travel size toiletries on the plane to last a few days, but deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. I buy when I get there.

Other:

Compression bags.
I found a cheap set that I stuffed my clothes into then rolled the air out of vents on the other side and sealed shut. These bags reduce the volume of my clothes by 30 percent and keep everything dry.

Dryer sheets.
Stuffed into my bag keep everything smelling fresh.

Twine.
It’s easy to set up a drying line anywhere I go.

Deck of cards.

Small notebook.
That I can fit in my back pocket and write whenever inspiration hits. Some times you have to go old school!

Hair clippers:
A haircut might only cost $2, but finding a barber shop in every little beach town and rural hamlet is problematic. I keep my hair shaved short so I just bring my own cheap clippers.

Believe it or not, that all fits into my North Face duffel bag/backpack with plenty of room to spare! I can always pick up bug spray, sunscreen, batteries, beach towels, etc. when I touch down. It may seem like a scarce amount of possessions for 6 months or more, but the funny thing is no matter what I pack, I never even use all of it! And by the time I’m ready to head back home my bag is always packed with different things – plenty of souvenirs, works of art, and gifts from the beautiful countries I’d visited. And those, along with the memories of the wonderful people I met and the experiences we shared, are what’s truly priceless to me!

THANKS TO: Norm Schriever!  EXCELLENT Article!

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