Nomadic Samuel | Travel Blog http://nomadicsamuel.com Nomadic Samuel's travel blog offers travel photos, travel videos, quirky travel stories, teaching English, ESL tips, photography tips & destinations. Fri, 16 Feb 2018 05:51:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 Northern Ireland in 24 Amazing Experiences! http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-blog/northern-ireland-in-24-amazing-experiences http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-blog/northern-ireland-in-24-amazing-experiences#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:51:21 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24636 I recently travelled to Northern Ireland with the sole purpose of tracking down 24 amazing moments travellers can experience…one for each hour of the day.

My very first trip a few years back had been spent exploring Belfast and venturing up to the Causeway Coast on a day trip, but I had left barely scratching the surface. That’s why I was thrilled to be coming back to Northern Ireland, this time with plenty of time to spare and an itinerary that would take me across the country.

From food tours to Game of Thrones experiences, and coastal walks to haunted castle visits, here’s a little taste of what I experienced in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland in 24 Experiences

Northern Ireland Coastal Walk
Dressing up in Northern Ireland for a Game of Thrones Experience

Scenery in Northern Ireland

Experiencing the drink scene in Northern Ireland

Inside the Merchant Hotel in Belfast

01:00 – Have cocktails at The Merchant Hotel

One of my favourite experiences in Belfast was having a cocktail at The Merchant Hotel. With an elegant and classy atmosphere that isn’t pretentious, and a jaw-dropping selection of cocktails, it’s easy to see why this cocktail bar was voted best in the world by Tales of the Cocktail. It’s a fun spot to either end the evening or kickstart the night depending on your style.

Location: Merchant Hotel – Address: 16 Skipper Street, Belfast

02:00 – Enjoy the nightlife at The Bullitt Hotel

Belfast has legendary nightlife and after hitting up a few pubs I finished the night at Bullitt Hotel where there was a live DJ set. This was another lively spot with great cocktails, so come thirsty!

Location: Bullitt Hotel – 40a Church Lane, Belfast

Learning to make sourdough bread in Northern Ireland

Loaf of sourdough bread

03:00 – Bake some sourdough bread

Now for a rather unusual activity: if you’re an early bird, how about baking some sourdough bread?

I joined Dara at the Ursa Minor Bakehouse, where he is up at 3 am daily to make his famous sourdough bread. His bread picked up awards at the World Bread Awards in 2016, so even if you can’t rise early, swing by for a fresh loaf later in the morning to see what it’s all about.

Location: Ursa Minor Bakery – 45 Ann Street, Ballycastle [10am to 4pm (Tue-Sat)]

Sleeping in the haunted Ballygally Castle

The haunted Ballygally Castle in Northern Ireland

04:00 – Sleep in a Haunted Castle

If you dare muster up the courage, consider visiting the haunted room located at Ballygally Castle, which is home to the ghost of Lady Isobel Shaw.

The story goes that after being locked in her room and starved by her husband, she fell to her death from the window.

Mediums have been invited to spend the night at the castle and they’ve reported that there are more ghosts than actual guests.

Would you spend the night here?

Location: Ballygally Castle – Coast Road, Ballygally

Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Visiting the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

05:00 – Watch sunrise at Giant’s Causeway

This was my second time visiting Giant’s Causeway, but this time around, I beat the crowds. If you don’t mind setting an alarm while on holiday, it’s worth getting up early and visiting for sunrise.

Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO Heritage Site that features no less than 40,000+ interlocking basalt columns as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption.

Legend has it that Irish giant, Finn MacCool, built the causeway across the North Channel to accept a fight from Scottish giant Benandonner.

When you visit this place for sunrise, it’s easy to imagine these tales to be true.

Location: Giant’s Causeway – 44 Causeway Road, Bushmills

Catch & Sea Tour on the Causeway Coast

Catch & Sea Tour on the Causeway Coast

Catch & Sea Tour on the Causeway Coast

06:00 – Take the Catch & Sea Tour

Did you arrive in Northern Ireland with your sea legs? If so, you can join the Catch & Sea Tour with experienced fishermen for their early morning catch.

Not only do you get to experience the dramatic coastline of the Causeway Coast, but you can even catch your own breakfast.

Once you make it back to land, the catch is cooked up for breakfast along with a lovely assortment of baked bread, cheeses, chutney, butter and freshly brewed coffee. The perfect way to start the morning!

Location: Babushka – S Pier, Portrush

Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

GOT tour at Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

07:00 – Visit the Dark Hedges

Any Game Of Thrones fans out there?

Eat your heart out at the Dark Hedges where you’ll find the famous tree-lined avenue with an opportunity to dress up in costume while wielding a sword on horseback.

Ensure that you bring extra batteries for your camera. The atmospheric tunnel is a major tourist attraction so arrive early to beat the crowds.

Location: Dark Hedges – Bregagh Rd, Stranocum, Ballymoney

Contact: Sheans Horse Farm – Armoy, 38 Coolkeeran Rd, Ballymoney

Gobbins Cliff Path Experience (Causeway Coastal Route)

Gobbins Cliff Path Experience (Causeway Coastal Route)

Gobbins Cliff Path Experience (Causeway Coastal Route)

08:00 – Walk the Gobbins Cliff Path

To experience the best of rugged Northern Ireland, you can walk the Gobbins Cliff Path.

This is a complete sensory experience where you can hear the churning of the sea, feel the cool breeze blowing on your face, and admire the native seabirds that call this place home. There are some incredible views to be had here.

Bring a windbreaker because it can really pick up here!

Location: The Gobbins – 77-83 Gobbins Road, Larne

Views from Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (Causeway Coastal Route)

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (Causeway Coastal Route)

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (Causeway Coastal Route)

09:00 – Cross Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Bring your hiking shoes and a pinch of courage to cross Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, which links the mainland to the small island of Carraig a’ Ráid (Rock of the Casting).

Be warned that this is not for the faint-hearted as there have been instances where visitors have had to be taken off the island by boat because of intense fear of walking back across the bridge.

The suspension bridge, made of Douglas fir and wire, offers some of the best vantage points for landscape photos.

My one tip: keep your eyes fixed straight ahead.

Location: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – 119a Whitepark Rd, Ballycastle
Titanic Museum in Belfast

Titanic Museum in Belfast

10:00 – Titanic Belfast (Belfast)

If for some reason you only have time for one major attraction in Belfast, without any hesitation visit Titanic Belfast.

Voted the World’s Best Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards in 2016, the iconic building shaped like the bow of a ship, offers mesmerizing interactive experiences where you learn about the lives of the workers who built the Titanic along with the passengers and crew who made the fateful voyage.

Location: Titanic Belfast – 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Belfast (10 am to 5 pm daily)

St George's Market (Belfast)

Food at St George's Market (Belfast)

11:00 – Have an Ulster Fry at St George’s Market

Whether you’re looking for a great local food experience or a tasty souvenir to take back home to friends, St George’s Market in Belfast is your best bet.

Come in the morning and have an Ulster Fry for brunch featuring soda bread, potato bread, back bacon, fried eggs, fried mushrooms, sausages, baked beans, hash browns and toast.

You’ll most likely want to skip lunch! 😉

Location: St George’s Market – 12-20 East Bridge St, Belfast (Fri to Sun various hours)

Belfast Food Tour

Belfast Food Tour

Belfast Food Tour

12:00 – Take the Belfast Food Tour

With a burgeoning food scene that is impossible to conquer in mere days, the Belfast Food Tour is a great way to sample some of the best bites and drinks the city has to offer.

Their 4-hour guided walk takes you to some top food and drink spots around Belfast City Centre, plus they also offer gin and whisky tours if boozy tours are more your thing!

Location: Taste and Tour NI – A1.01 Portview Trade Centre, 310 Newtownards Road, Belfast

Fish at Harry's Shack (Causeway Coastal Route)

Fish at Harry's Shack (Causeway Coastal Route)

Fish at Harry's Shack (Causeway Coastal Route)

13:00 – Have the fish at Harry’s Shack

Located on the beach, Harry’s Shack is THE spot for local seafood and fish. I had a hankering for fish and chips and it was the best I’ve had in Northern Ireland. Come for the food but consider the views, atmosphere and friendly service the cherry on top.

Location: Harry’s Shack – 116 Strand Rd, Portstewart (Lunch & dinner hours vary Tues-Sun) 

Winterfell GOT Experience

14:00 – Winterfell GOT Experience

The Dark Hedges wasn’t the only GOT destination I visited. Game Of Thrones fans will be glad to know that you can visit Castle Ward to experience Winterfell by dressing up in costume and putting those archery skills to the test.

Location: Winterfell Castle & Demesne, Old Castle Ward, Park Road, Downpatrick

Belfast Street Art Tour

Belfast Street Art Tour

15:00 – Belfast Street Art Tour

I’ve visited many cities around the world with fascinating street art but nothing quite compares to Belfast. Join a tour with a local artist to discover the significance and meaning of various works of art as you stroll around Cathedral Quarter.

Location: Visit Belfast – 9 Donegall Square N, Belfast

Belfast Gin Gaunt

Belfast Gin Gaunt

16:00 – Belfast Gin Gaunt

I’ve become a big fan of gin in recent years and if you want to tickle your tastebuds, I’d suggest taking the Belfast Gin Gaunt to work your way around some of the best bars and pubs in the city.

In total, you visit 5 spots sampling 7 different gins including 3 that are locally made.

Location: Taste and Tour NI – A1.01 Portview Trade Centre, 310 Newtownards Road, Belfast (Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm)

17:00 – Boom Board Tour (Derry)

Ever heard of boom boarding before? I hadn’t until visiting Derry.

Long-boarding originated in Hawaii when surfers wanted to take to the streets on wheels; today it’s also a fun way to tour Derry.

The 2-hour tour starts with a lesson in St Columb’s Park and then takes you to the streets and winds up at the famous Walled City Brewery where you can sample local brews coming out of the microdistillery.

Location: Far and Wild – St Columb’s Park House, 4 Limavady Rd, Londonderry

 Walled City Brewery

 Walled City Brewery

Walled City Brewery

18:00 – Enjoy a craft beer tasting

If you’ve done even a quarter of what I’ve suggested in this article you’ll have worked up a ridiculous appetite at some point. To satisfy your hunger I suggest heading over to the Walled City Brewery in Derry for burgers and craft beers.

I came hungry and left feeling more than satisfied.

Just look at that burger!

Location: Walled City Brewery – Ebrington Square & Parade Ground, 70 Ebrington Street, Derry-Londonderry BT47 6FA, UK (+44 28 7134 3336)

Lough Navar Viewpoint (Co Fermanagh)

Lough Navar Viewpoint (Co Fermanagh)

19:00 – Visit Lough Navar Viewpoint

For a walk in the woods check out Lough Navar Forest where you’ll find numerous points of interest including views over Lower Lough Erne, Sperrin Mounts and the west coast of Donegal.

Location: Lough Navar Forest – Glennasheevar Rd, Derrygonnelly, Enniskillen

Outdoor Spa Experience (Co Fermanagh)

Outdoor Spa Experience (Co Fermanagh)

20:00 – Relax with an Outdoor Spa Experience

After that action-packed schedule, I was feeling ready to unwind and Finn Lough Resort proved to be the perfect spot. You can’t go wrong with a natural outdoor spa in a scenic backdrop.

Location: Finn Lough Resort – Letter Road, Leggs, Enniskillen BT93 2BB, UK (+44 28 6838 0360)

Sunset over Lough Erne (Fermanagh)

WIne and cheese at sunset over Lough Erne (Fermanagh)

21:00 – Watch sunset over Lough Erne

After my spa experience, I went over to Lough Erne where I enjoyed nightfall over the lake, warmed up my toes over the fire pit, and munched on cheese while sipping on wine. It was a magic moment to wind down the day.

Location: Finn Lough Resort – Letter Road, Leggs, Enniskillen BT93 2BB, UK (+44 28 6838 0360)

22:00 – Go to Cathedral Quarter for nightlife

The cobbled streets of Cathedral Quarter in Belfast are your best for nightlife when the plethora of bars and pubs become packed on a weekend night. Here you can party the night away while enjoying live music on the streets and raising a pint with friendly locals.

Location: Royal Avenue and the Dunbar Link 

Love Fish (Belfast)

23:00 – Have a late night dinner at Love Fish

For a seafood feast of feasts, head over to Deanes Love Fish which serves a seafood platter for the ages. My plate was loaded with tasty bites from the sea and I couldn’t help but indulge in a little bit of everything.

Location: Deanes Love Fish – 30-36 Howard StreetBelfast

24:00 – Moonlight Kayaking (Derry)

Last but not least, to wrap up this Northern Ireland itinerary, consider a moonlight kayaking experience. Not only is it a good workout but you’ll also have an opportunity to spot wildlife you wouldn’t otherwise see during the day. Some of the highlights include Peace Bridge in Derry, Magilligan Fort and the Roe River under the Binevenagh Mountain.

Location: Far and Wild – St Columb’s Park House, 4 Limavady Rd, Londonderry

Have you been to Northern Ireland?
What are some of your favourite experiences there?

The trip was brought to you as part of the #lovegreatbritain campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Visit Britain and Discover Northern Ireland.

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15 things to do in Karakol http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/karakol-travel-guide http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/karakol-travel-guide#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 18:10:08 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24456 Last year I had the privilege of visiting Kyrgyzstan for the first time. I attended the World Nomad Games, got a taste of adventure travel around Song Kol, briefly visited Karakol and then lingered for while in the capital city of Bishkek. In many ways, it was the perfect introduction to the country; however, I left wanting more.

Having the chance to revisit Kyrgyzstan and come back to Karakol for a few days (I had previously just done a day trip) allowed me to experience this part of the country more in depth and really appreciate all it has to offer. Sitting on the eastern shores of Issyk Kul, Karakol is considered the adventure capital of Kyrgyzstan. Travellers come here to arrange hikes, horse treks and camping adventures, however, the town also warrants considerable exploration when it comes to culture and local cuisine.

Visiting Karakol is similar to visiting Bishkek in the sense that it rewards those who linger to enjoy the laidback pace of life, discover its unusual attractions, do a bit of cafe hopping, and come to appreciate its many quirky charms. With this in mind, let’s discover 15 things you can do while visiting Karakol.

15 things to do in Karakol

 

1) Karakol walking tour

As a first-time visitor, one of the best ways to get acquainted with Karakol, is to take one of the free walking tours. These tip-based tours are put on by the tourist office and run three times a week. It’s a great way to get a feel for the town while checking out some of the major landmarks, plus you have a local guide who can answer any questions you may have about the place, and even offer suggestions on other things to do.

Dungan Mosque in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

2) Dungan Mosque

Our first stop of the walking tour was the Dungan Mosque. This architecturally-unique mosque looks a lot like a Buddhist temple; this is because it was built by the Dungan community, an ethnically Chinese people group who follow Islam but incorporated architectural elements from their own culture. As a fun fact: apparently this mosque was built without the use of nails (though some nails have been spotted from modern-day repairs).

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church wooden cathedral in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

3) Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church

Another iconic place of worship in Karakol (Каракол) is the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. This is a traditional Russian wooden cathedral complete with onion domes. Over the years, it has been used as a sports hall, school, theatre, coal shop and dance hall, just to name a few!

Antique Shop Aleksandr Korablev for Soviet era souvenirs in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

4) Antique Shop of Aleksandr Korablev

If you’re an avid souvenir collector then you’ll want to peruse Aleksandr Korablev’s Antique Shop. This little one-room shop is overflowing with treasures from the Soviet era. They have things like old cameras, porcelain sculptures, and even busts of Lenin.

I wanted to purchase many items but due to the lack of space in my suitcase, I only ended up buying a Soviet-Era border guard hat to add to my ever growing collection of hats from around the world. They had quite a few hats to choose from, and we learned that the color of each hat denotes whether it was an official cap for the army, navy, police or border control.

5) Karakol’s History Museum

We also squeezed in a quick visit to Karakol’s History Museum. The small museum is home to an impressive taxidermy collection, plus when we visited there was an exhibition of photos by Ella Maillart, a swiss traveler who photographed her travels through Central Asia in the 1930s.

Monument busts at Victory Park and World War II Memorial in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Victory Park and World War II Memorial in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

6) Victory Park and World War II Memorial

For a green escape, we also visited Victory Park and World War II Memorial located in the Przhevalsk District. Everything here, from the many busts to imposing monuments,  is done on a grand scale and if you look closely enough you’ll see how tiny I am on the left of the above picture snapped by Audrey.

7) Fat Cat Karakol for food and drinks

Our favorite place to spend a lazy afternoon in the city was hands down the Fat Cat Karakol located on the corner of Gagarin and Alybakova. First recommended to us by two Dutch travellers we met at Bel Tam Yurt Camp, this chill cafe served up some amazing cakes, as well as pizzas and grilled cheese sandwiches paired with craft beers.

What makes this place even more special is that the owner, Zhamila, has used her business to do a lot of good in the community, including organizing projects to raise funds for school supplies and empower women to start their own businesses.

8) Visiting local markets

Meandering through the local markets was another one of our favorite things to do in Karakol. You’ll find just about everything here ranging from fresh produce to boxing gloves, and in the food department, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of Ashlyan-fu (or three), but more on that local dish later.

Ashlyanfu (Ашлян-фу) for dinner as part of an 8 course meal in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

9) Dungan 8-course meal

For the culture vulture and foodie, arranging an eight course meal with a Dungan family is another must. Before the food was served, we had the opportunity to help prepare Ashlyanfu (Ашлян-фу) – a cold soup featuring different kinds of noodles, a vinegar based broth and a combination of bell peppers, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes thrown in for good measure.

The dinner itself was a feast of feasts. According to Dungan tradition no less than 8 different dishes appear at the table. We came with our best intentions to finish everything served, but we didn’t even come close to accomplishing that. You can book this experience through Destination Karakol.

Spiral shaped lagman noodles at a Uyghur Cooking Class in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Our cooking host showing us how to stretch lagman noodles at a Uyghur Cooking Class in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

10) Uyghur Cooking Class

With our love of indulging in local cuisine, another experience we really enjoyed was a cooking class where we learned to make a traditional Uyghur dish: laghman (Лагман). We had Gulya as our guide in the kitchen; she taught us how to stretch the noodles and let’s just say I was all thumbs in the kitchen.

After a fun demonstration, we left it to the experts to continue with the recipe and we just watched as they fried the ingredients and worked on the broth. Once again, you can arrange this cooking class through Destination Karakol.

Eating delicious Lagman (Лагман) in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

11) Eat a bowl of lagman

Speaking of the dish I just mentioned, lagman (Лагман) is a popular Uyghur dish that is a staple of Kyrgyz cuisine. The hand-pulled noodles can be served either soupy or fried with plenty of meat and vegetables, and it’s another dish that you’ll want to sample in the local restaurants.

Views of a rowboat during our sunset cruise on Lake Issyk-Kul (Ысык-Көл - Иссык-Куль) Przhevalsky Bay in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Sunset views during cruise on Lake Issyk-Kul (Ысык-Көл - Иссык-Куль) Przhevalsky Bay in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

12) Sunset Cruise on Lake Issyk-Kul

One of our last activities in Karakol was a sunset cruise on Przhevalsky Bay located on the eastern shores of Lake Issyk Kul (Ысык-Көл). Surrounded by friends, we enjoyed a spectacular sunset with drinks in hand and calm waters as we marveled at mountains off in the distance.

Views of Jeti Oguz (Jeti-Ögüz) in Kyrgyzstan

13) Jeti Oguz Valley for hiking

Our favorite day trip from Karakol was a short 30-minute drive to Jeti-Ögüz. Translated, it means ‘seven bulls’, named so for the seven plus hills that make up the formation. As you get a little deeper into the valley you’ll find great opportunities for hiking and horse-trekking. Pack a picnic lunch like a Kyrgyz visitor or stay longer in one of the yurt camps.

Yuriy Gagarin statue in Barksoon, Kyrgyzstan

Barskoon Waterfalls in Kyrgyzstan

14) Barskoon Gorge

To extend the day trip a little longer, we continued on to the nearby Barskoon Gorge. You’ll find numerous waterfalls here along with some great hiking trails and a bust of Yuri Gagarin – the first cosmonaut who apparently had a particular fondness for this area. You can reach some of the smaller waterfalls within 15 minutes of hiking but the main one is 1.5 to 2 hours away on foot.

Views of Karakol, Kyrgyzstan during our day hiking trip

Scenic forest walk during our day hike in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

15) Karakol Day Hike

Lastly, we couldn’t visit the adventure capital of Kyrgyzstan without doing at least one hike. With a local guide from Eco-Trek and a dog friend in tow, we set off on a scenic journey starting from the village of Jorgolot with highlights including panoramic views of Karakol, a great picnic in the valley, and a walk through the forest trails to finish off. Of course, far more ambitious hikes, horse-treks and yurt stays can be arranged from Karakol, but a day hike is a good option if you’re short on time or need a little help deciding whether you want to commit to something more challenging or not.

 

Well, that’s it from me! I hope this guide offered some worthwhile suggestions of things you can do in and around Karakol, as well as day trips to some nearby attractions.

This trip was made possible in partnership with Discover Kyrgyzstan. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

 

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Airport Tips to Help You Get Through Security Quicker http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-tips/airport-tips-help-get-security-quicker http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-tips/airport-tips-help-get-security-quicker#comments Fri, 16 Jun 2017 10:53:41 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24348 This article is brought to you by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to help you avoid delays during the summer travel season.

Airplane

It’s summer, you’ve been planning your big vacation for a while, and all you can think about is getting to the lake/beach/mountain – it’s understandable! But with your mind’s eye fixed on your destination, it’s easy to forget about the journey, particularly security screening at the airport. The good news is that being prepared can help you breeze through the screening checkpoint, leaving you more time to shop, eat or just relax before your flight.

The first step is doing your homework so you know what goes in your carry-on and what goes in your checked baggage. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has some handy tools on its website, including a searchable “What can I bring” list that lets you know where to pack your items and what can and can’t fly. It also has a travel checklist generator and tips for all sorts of challenges –  from what to do with large sports equipment and medical supplies to travelling with pets.

According to CATSA, one of the biggest hold-ups at security is having too many liquids, aerosols and gels. Containers over 100 ml and 1-litre bags that are overstuffed with smaller containers (no seal; no deal) will need to be checked. As for that cup of java or water bottle in your hand – if it’s over 100 ml, be prepared to chug.

There are some exceptions, like liquids for kids under two years old and medication. You can check out more here. In all cases, the containers should be taken out of your carry-on bag and ready to present to the screening officer for inspection.

Once you hit the front of the line, it helps to have your boarding pass ready to show to the screening officer. You can also speed things up if you put any loose change, keys and small electronics (smartphones, cameras, tablets) in your carry-on bag so you can just drop it in the bin. If you’re travelling with a laptop or other large electronics (gaming console, DVD player) you’ll need to put them in a separate bin. For more information on what you can put in the bins at the checkpoint, you can find it here.

If you’re still wondering what to do with an item or want more information about security screening, you can always send questions to CATSA on Twitter or Facebook.

Lastly, travel is all about being mobile, so you should definitely download CATSA’s free mobile app. It’s available on Android, iOS and Blackberry, and can help you with all this and more, including wait times for security at most major airports.

 

Wishing you a great summer of travel!

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15 things to do in Bishkek http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/15-things-to-do-in-bishkek http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/15-things-to-do-in-bishkek#comments Wed, 14 Dec 2016 13:37:05 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24057 Views from Ala-Too Square on a gorgeous sunny day with a rainbow in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Views from Ala-Too Square on a gorgeous sunny day with a rainbow in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Most cities we visit offer an overwhelming amount of activities and places to visit, so much so, that we often find ourselves making compromises in order to cover the places we’re most interested in. This was not the case for Bishkek where to-do-lists are best tossed out the window. At first glance, the Kyrgyz capital doesn’t appear to offer much in terms of attractions, but we quickly discovered this is the kind of place that you need to experience – sit back, relax, and see where it takes you. It’s only when you linger in Bishkek and start chatting with expats and locals, that you begin to discover that this city is home to a whole slew of quirky sights, trendy cafes, relaxing parks, underrated attractions, and imposing monuments. Bishkek won us over in a matter of days and by the end of our visit we understood why so many travellers choose to linger here and others find a way to call it home. But now on to the sightseeing; in this post I’m going to show you 15 things to do in Bishkek on your visit:

15 things to do in Bishkek

 
VIDEO: Bishkek Travel Guide
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/vytSLjPZmsg

People walking around Ala-Too Square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

People walking around Ala-Too Square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

1) Ala-Too Square (Ала-тоо аянты – Площадь Ала-Тоо)

First up, we visited Ala-Too Square, which is the central plaza in Bishkek. While there isn’t much to do here, it’s one of the city’s major landmarks featuring plenty of benches and water fountains where you can take a quick break. Built in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kyrgyz Soviet Social Republic, here you’ll also find a statue of Manas commemorating the 20th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s independence. State events and celebrations take place here along with occasional protests.

The State History Museum in downtown Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The State History Museum in downtown Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

2) State Historical Museum

Just across the street you’ll find the State Historical Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations when we visited but if you wander around the back of the building you’ll find an imposing Lenin statue. When open to the public, it houses an eclectic collection of Soviet era items along with mementos from the 2010 revolution.

3) Osh Bazaar (Ош базары)

Another place you’ll want to visit in Bishkek is the Osh Bazaar. It may not be the biggest in Central Asia, but it’s a bustling hive of activity where you could easily spend several hours. We had no problems at the market, but we were warned by expat friends and locals to ignore the fake police who may ask to see documents and camera permits. Inside the market you’ll find fresh produce, local snacks and clothes. If you’re adventurous with your tastes buds, be sure to try the dry cheese balls which taste a bit like salty goat cheese. Our find of the day was a half of kilo of dates for 100 Som (roughly $1.50 USD). Bargain!

4) Abandoned Casino

Remember my earlier spiel about Bishkek being a little quirky? The city has plenty of abandoned buildings to explore, none being more fascinating than the forgotten casino. Here you’ll find graffiti, smashed objects and possibly teenagers hanging out. Be sure to bring closed shoes as there is an abundance of broken glass on the ground.

Views of Victory Square Memorial Park in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Views of Victory Square Memorial Park in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

5) Victory Monument

Directly across from the abandoned casino, you’ll find the Victory Monument which was built to commemorate the 40th anniversary of World War 2. The three curved arcs represent a yurt, and the sculpture of a woman standing near the eternal flame is meant to symbolize her waiting for her husband and sons to return from the war.

6) Erkindik Park and Ice Cream

I spent more time in Erkindik Park than anywhere else in Bishkek. Whether I was jogging to burn calories or licking ice cream to gain them back, I couldn’t get enough of this place. Popular with locals, especially on the weekends, you’ll find this park lined with trees charming at all of times of day. It tends to be quieter in the mornings and busier in the late afternoon and early evening.

7) Zhirgal Banya Bath House

I’m a sucker for saunas and public baths! If I touch down in Finland or South Korea, spending ample time at the sauna is an absolute must. When I found out Bishkek had a popular bath house I just had to check it out. Separated by gender, you strip down to your birthday suit and alternate between steam rooms and saunas. I went to check out the polar plunge dome with ice cold water. As I was tip-toeing my way down the ladder I was suddenly thrust face first into the pool. Gulping water I immediately swung my head back and noticed a burly man of Kyrgyz World Nomad Games proportions looking down at me with his arms crossed. I had just been pushed into the pool by another grown naked man. I didn’t even know how to react. I just ended up swimming to the other end. Aside from being shoved I did enjoy my experience at Zhirgal Banya.

Our pair of roller skates that we put on to go rollerskating in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Our pair of roller skates that we put on to go rollerskating in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

8) Retro Rollerskating Rink

Found a warp tunnel where you can time travel back to the 80s? If not, may I suggest visiting the roller rink in Bishkek? I thought roller-skating would be a lot like ice skating and/or rollerblading; I was wrong. I’m sure my bambi on skates impression provided plenty of humor for the mostly local teenage clientele.

9) Kyrgyz National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Abdylas Maldybayev

We missed the start of opera and ballet season by just a few days, however, if you’re in the city at the right time, that’s something you could consider doing as we heard the performances are top notch.

10) Bishkek Cafes

If you’re interested in chillin’ like a villain you’ll find Bishkek has a collection of worthwhile cafes to pass an afternoon. Check out Q cafe where you’ll slurp on gourmet coffee and chow down on freshly baked muffins and Dvorak cake.

Mountain views as we hiked Issyk-Ata Gorge as a day trip from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Mountain views as we hiked Issyk-Ata Gorge as a day trip from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

11) Hiking outside of Bishkek with Trekking Union

If you’re craving a day-trip from Bishkek, you can always plan a hike to the nearby mountains with the Trekking Union. With hikes happening every weekend you’ll find yourself out in nature with good company along the way. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks and proper footwear. Also, don’t be shocked if the 12 kilometer hike you’ve signed up for is actually a 25 kilometer jaunt.

 
VIDEO: Hiking in Kyrgyzstan
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/Bj-uHZV_aVQ

12) Kyrgyz traditional food and International cuisine

As far as traditional Kyrgyz food is concerned, there’s plenty to sample ranging from grilled meats to dumplings, and noodles to mixed rice. If you’re so inclined, there’s also fermented mare’s milk (kymyz – Кымыз) which is a flavour you won’t soon forget. International options are also plentiful in Bishkek with some great steakhouses, Japanese and Korean restaurants. Our favorite was Chicken Star where you can enjoy spicy Korean chicken and tteokochi spicy rice cakes with your pint of beer.


VIDEO: Kyrgyz Traditional Food
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/YcQZHdOEbFY

13) Craft Beer Scene

Save The Ales! I’m always up for a good cause and if you’re jonesing for a craft IPA you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll enjoy the casual atmosphere and company of others when things get dark in the city.

You can spot plenty of flowers in various parks and gardens in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

You can spot plenty of flowers in various parks and gardens in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

14) Oak Park

With our time in Bishkek winding down, we made a visit to Oak Park which is full of peculiar sculptures and offers a nice green escape. It’s worth a visit if you’re already in the area.

15) Panfilov Park (Панфилов көчөсү – улица Панфилова)

Lastly, there’s Panfilov Park, where you can enjoy all sorts of carnival rides right in the heart of Bishkek. We had an enormous lunch before visiting so that meant the roller coaster was off limits for us, but it shouldn’t necessarily be for you.

Bishkek Photo Essay

Stunning snow capped mountain views off in the distance from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Stunning snow capped mountain views off in the distance from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Lenin statue monument as viewed through tree branches in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Lenin as viewed through tree branches in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Standing below the Victory monument and looking upwards in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Standing below the Victory monument and looking upwards in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Views of Erkindik Park during a quiet weekday afternoon in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Views of Erkindik Park during a quiet weekday afternoon in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Our soviet era apartment building where we stayed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Our soviet era apartment building where we stayed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

People sitting down on a park bench at Erkindik Park in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

People sitting down on a park bench at Erkindik Park in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Horses and snow capped mountain peak views during our Issyk-Ata Gorge trekkking adventure in Kyrgyzstan

Horses and snow capped mountains during our Issyk-Ata Gorge trekkking adventure in Kyrgyzstan

And that’s a wrap for our trip to Bishkek. This city is the kind of place that you experience as opposed to ticking off attractions, so it ended up being a fairly relaxing trip after a few busy weeks of travel around Kyrgyzstan. As always, if you have any suggestions of things to do in Bishkek, feel free to share your tips with fellow travellers in the comments section below.

 

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First time riding a hot air balloon in Costa Brava, Spain http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/first-time-riding-hot-air-balloon-costa-brava-spain http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/first-time-riding-hot-air-balloon-costa-brava-spain#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:35:29 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24053 Travel has taught me many life lessons and one of the most important of all is to embrace the unknown by being willing to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m excited to try new foods, visit new places and experience new cultures. However, my fear of heights is real and something I’ve been dealing with my entire life. Although I’ve never allowed it to get the best of me in terms of not getting on a plane or crossing a bridge, I’ve carefully tailored my travels to be more adventurous in terms of my taste buds as opposed to doing things such as bungee jumping.

When faced with the option of experiencing a hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava for the first time, my default initial reaction was to pass on it. After-all, it is not as though I was getting from point A to B by balloon. I could just sit this one out and resume the rest of my travel itinerary with the group. That would have obviously been the easy decision; however, something inside of me decided not to let my fear of heights get in the way of what could be one of the most scenic flights of my life. I mean, we would be flying over ancient volcanoes and seeing the Pyrenees off in the distance; that’s not a view you get to see every day!

Blowing up our hot air balloon just before the ride

Blowing up our hot air balloon at Vol de Coloms just before the ride.

Audrey taking a photo during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava

Audrey taking a photo during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava.

Passing over trees and clouds during our hot air balloon ride.

Flying over ancient volcanoes in Costa Brava.

Pyrenees mountain range views from our hot air balloon ride

The Pyrenees mountain range off in the distance.

Those waving goodbye at us became tiny dots; we were rising fast. Without articulating it out loud I was panicking inside. I instantly imagined all of the worst case scenarios possible; however, it wasn’t long before I started to relax. It helped that a few others were nervous and that I wasn’t the only person slightly terrified to be up that high in the sky. The ride itself is smoother than flying in a plane or a helicopter. You don’t feel any turbulence whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like you’re really moving in any direction at all.

I’d be lying if I said I was relaxed in say the same way I would be lounging on a couch back home, but I did start to feel more comfortable. It wasn’t long before I took out my camera and really started to enjoy my surroundings. The views were simply stunning and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Below us, we had La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park which features 45 dormant volcanoes situated in between the Pyrenees Mountains and the coastline.

An overhead perspective shot of a car driving in a rural area

An overhead perspective shot of a car driving in a rural area.

Scenic countryside views during our hot air balloon ride

Scenic countryside views during our hot air balloon ride.

Overhead town views from our hot air balloon ride

Overhead town views from our hot air balloon ride.

By around the halfway point of our journey (most rides are 1.5 hours long) I relaxed even more. It was around this point in time that the pilot brought out cake and cava. Watching the sunrise while drinking cava and eating cake was the moment I realized it was all worth it. I felt more at ease and I realized I had conquered my fear of hot air ballooning. No, I’ll never totally get over my fear of heights but I was ‘okay’ with being up in the air at that moment.

And then came the descent so smooth and gentle, that we hardly felt a thing when we touched the ground. The landing much like the rest of the balloon ride was graceful. I had survived my first hot air balloon ride and I didn’t fall out of the basket! 😉 Moreover, although I was glad to be back on solid ground I was already thinking that I could do another ride in the future. Had I decided to let fear get in the way I would not have experienced all of those magic moments in the sky nor would I have felt good about myself for skipping out. Challenging yourself is the only way to grow as a person and I’m glad the hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava reminded me of how important it is to never stop doing that.

Silhouette sunrise shot of a hot air balloon from our basket

Silhouette sunrise shot of a hot air balloon from our basket.

A blanket of clouds from a high vantage point during our hot air balloon ride

A blanket of clouds from a high vantage point during our hot air balloon ride.

Clouds in the foreground and homes in the background during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava

Clouds in the foreground and homes in the background during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava.

A shot of hot air balloons flying higher than us off in the distance

A shot of hot air balloons flying higher than us off in the distance

Planning your hot air balloon flight:

  • Book a flight with Vol de Coloms in La Garrotxa for departures between 7 and 8 in the morning.
  • Rides last approximately 1.5 hours.
  • The address is: Afores s/n17811, Olot, España
A shot of a hot air balloon taking off just before us

A shot of a hot air balloon taking off just before us.

Looking up at our hot air balloon prior to taking off

Looking up at our hot air balloon prior to taking off.

Silhouette shots of hot air balloons taken from our basket

A memorable first flight in Costa Brava.

This post was brought to you as a result of the #EuroFoodTrip campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Costa Brava & Girona Pyrenees and Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all thoughts remain my own.

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Visiting Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena, Italy http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/museo-casa-enzo-ferrari http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/museo-casa-enzo-ferrari#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:11:52 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24055 One of the most pleasant surprises of my recent trip to Emilia-Romagna, Italy was visiting the Enzo Ferrari Museum. Typically museums are not really my thing; I prefer to be out and about wandering a destination on foot, devouring local dishes, and checking out markets. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my visit, I realize that one of the main reasons I enjoyed the Enzo Ferrari Museum so much is that it is not your typical museum.

The Enzo Ferrari Museum shaped like a ferrari engine in Modena, Italy

The Enzo Ferrari Museum is shaped like a ferrari engine hood.

An exhibit inside the Enzo Ferrari Museum

The welcome exhibit inside the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

A close-up shot of the wheel of a racing car at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

A close-up shot of the wheel of a racing car at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

What captured my attention before I even set foot inside the building, was just how sleek the design of the Enzo Ferrari Museum is. The main exhibition hall, which was designed by Jan Kaplicky, is shaped to resemble a Ferrari engine hood and it is striking. Officially known as ‘Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari’ this 6000 square meter museum in Modena is dedicated to the life and work of Enzo Ferrari and it features a mix of rare racing cars from the 1950’s as well as more modern cars from Formula One, but I’m getting ahead of myself, because my experience at this museum began with food.

Considering my trip to Italy was focused around food and drink, I wasn’t surprised when our first order of business at the Enzo Ferrari Museum was to sit down for a coffee and a gelato. The Italians have got it right when it comes to easing your way into an experience by first making sure you’re well fed and caffeinated. Then, it was time to see the cars.

A rear shot of the racing car at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

A rear shot of a racing car at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

A close-up shot of the rear lights of a vintage ferrari car

A close-up shot of the rear lights on a vintage Ferrari.

Fine workmanship of a Ferrari

The fine workmanship of a Ferrari.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a car aficionado, I have to say that having the opportunity to get up close with all the different Ferraris really gave me a better appreciation for the style, sophistication and pure muscle behind each vehicle. Seeing these cars up close and in person, I totally understand why someone would aspire to own one!

I found myself fascinated by some of the older racing cars and vintage Ferraris from the 70s. Going for a spin in one of those must have been a real thrill. Most of the time I think of transportation as getting from point A to B but when you’re doing it in style and comfort, it is an entirely different experience. I got to ride in a Ferrari last year in Las Vegas on an ‘exotic car’ tour and that gave me a little taste of what’s out there.

If you can’t get your hands on a Ferrari, one cool thing that you can do at the museum is to hop inside the F1 Simulator, which allows you to experience driving a Ferrari single-seater on the Monza Track (other options include Silverstone and Imola), and react to the conditions on the road by accelerating and breaking. A seven-minute ride costs € 25.00; much cheaper than signing your name on a dotted line.

A rear view vantage point of one of my favorite cars at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

A rear view vantage point of one of my favorite cars at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

The inner-workings of a vintage Ferrari car

The inner-workings of a Ferrari.

The iconic Ferrari logo at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

The iconic Ferrari logo at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

However, what I enjoyed most at the Enzo Ferrari Museum was their current exhibition “Red Carpet” which pays homage to international films and TV shows that have showcased Ferraris over the years. They had models from Miami ViceGone in 60 SecondsMagnum P.I., and more. And who can forget the iconic Ferrari in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? The mere thought of damaging such a prized possession makes me feel anxious.

Lastly, one thing that I found especially refreshing is that unlike a typical museum that features a laundry list of rules – no flash, no photo, no video! – the Enzo Ferrari Museum encourages its guests to take photos of the exhibits and to share those on social media (#MuseoFerrari, @MCEnzoFerrari) so snap away! Even if you’re not a car buff, I feel the Enzo Ferrari Museum is something that everyone can enjoy.

Ferrari logo close-up shot of a wheel at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

Close-up shot of the Ferrari logo on a wheel at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

Wheel perspective shot of a Ferrari car at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

Wheel perspective shot of a Ferrari at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

High vantage point shot of a Ferrari exhibit at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

High vantage point of the ‘Red Carpet’ Ferrari exhibit at the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena.

Number 14 of a vintage Ferrari car at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

Number 14 on a vintage Ferrari at the Enzo Ferrari Museum.

Low vantage point of a vintage Ferrari racing car

Low vantage point of a Ferrari racing car.

The iconic Ferrari white letters on a red background

The iconic Ferrari lettering on a red background.

Visiting Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari:

  • The Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena is open year round from 09.30 to 18.00 (April-October 09.30 to 19.00). It only closes on December 25 and January 1.
  • Tickets for adults are €15.00 and €5.00 for children.
  • The address is: Via Paolo Ferrari, 85, 41121 Modena MO, Italy

This post was brought to you as a result of the #EuroFoodTrip campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Costa Brava & Girona Pyrenees and Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all thoughts remain my own.

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Emilia-Romagna Guide For Foodies #EuroFoodTrip http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-blog/emilia-romagna-travel-guide-food-lovers http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-blog/emilia-romagna-travel-guide-food-lovers#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:32:29 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24051 Blue hour views of Bologna, Italy in Emilia-Romagna

Blue hour views of Bologna, Italy in Emilia-Romagna

If for some strange reason I was forced to eat only five different cuisines for the rest of my life, Italian food would be right at the top of that list. It may be hard to believe, considering I’ve turned into a bit of a foodie, but there was a time during my teenage years where my list of preferred foods consisted of only pizza, lasagna, pasta, ribs and cheesecake. Basically, 75% of what I liked was Italian food prepared Canadian style. Salad? Forget about it! Rice? Yuck!

It is funny how your taste buds evolve as you get older. These days I couldn’t fathom visiting a country and not diving deep into its local cuisine. Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to revisit Italy for the second time, this time travelling to the region of Emilia-Romagna. I couldn’t help but chuckle at how my teenage self would be dancing on the ceiling with excitement over the anticipation of eating freshly prepared pasta. Even though my palate has expanded, my excitement for Italian food hasn’t waned a bit.

Delicious Italian meat on a tray

Delicious Italian meat on a tray

Two years ago Audrey and I visited Italy for the first time and we couldn’t believe how much better Italian food is in Italy compared to anywhere else in the world. The Italian food I was having at home was like cardboard compared to what I ate in Italy. Now that I mention it, pasta literally does come out of a cardboard box more often than not when served in Canada. In Italy, though, it is all about fresh ingredients, time-tested recipes and big meals shared with friends and family. Wolfing down your food isn’t an option and thank heavens for that. We tried hard to find a bad cappuccino, a lackluster plate of pasta, an inferior risotto; we failed. The food is just that good.

Now come join us as we give you an overview of our time in Emilia-Romagna including our travel and dining experiences.

 
VIDEO: Emilia-Romagna Travel Guide for Food Lovers
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/zPgvE_1-dDU

Downtown Bologna, Italy at night with the lights shining brightly

Downtown Bologna, Italy at night with the lights shining brightly

Bologna Old Town at Night

Although we only had half a day in Bologna, the city really left an impression upon me. Our first activity was to visit Torre Prendiparte. Once a defense tower and prison built in the 12th century, it is now a B&B full of antiques and palpable history. As we climbed up the rickety old steps I kept reminding myself that it was worth it for the views. Although I didn’t feel nearly as nervous as when we did the hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava, it still was quite the climb. Upon reaching the top my jaw almost dropped. Although I’ve visited many impressive cities in terms of architecture and sheer scale, Bologna has one of the most impressive combinations of medieval towers, ancient buildings and impressive churches I’ve ever seen. After having an aperitivo and dinner we walked around the Old Town and I kept telling Audrey that we’d have to come back and revisit.

La Scienza in Cucina L'arte Di Mangiar Bene by Artusi

La Scienza in Cucina L’arte Di Mangiar Bene by Artusi

Italian Cooking at Casa Artusi

Audrey and I both know we’re good at devouring Italian pasta, but how would we fare trying to make it from scratch? Using the excuse that I’d be the photographer/videographer Audrey was the only one who got her hands sticky in the flour and eggs. As she was making pasta from scratch with the help of an instructor, I spent some time wandering around Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli. Pellegrino Artusi, the father of modern Italian cookery penned La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene known as The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well. If you can believe not a single publisher was interested in publishing his book at the time, but today it’s a classic in almost every Italian household!

Pinching the dough we created during our cooking class in Italy

Pinching the dough we created during our cooking class in Italy

We visited Acetaia Di Giorgio to take a traditional Balsamic vinegar tour

We visited Acetaia Di Giorgio to take a traditional Balsamic vinegar tour

Wine and Vinegar Tours

After lunch we visited the Drei Donà estate located in between the towns of Forlì, Castrocaro and Predappio in the ancient Romagna hills. After a tour of the premises we sat down to sample the wine and nibble on a few bites. What often impresses me about vineyards in Europe is that they have so much history and are typically family run dating back generations.

We also had the opportunity to visit Acetaia Di Giorgio in Modena. This traditional balsamic vinegar producer prepares its products using traditional methods. When it was time to sample some, I couldn’t believe how rich and flavorful it was. I’ve never had balsamic vinegar that even compares to what they produce.

Views from outside of the Enzo Ferrari Museum shaped like a Ferrari engine

Views from outside of the Enzo Ferrari Museum shaped like a Ferrari engine

Enzo Ferrari Museum

Any kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s remembers seeing iconic Ferraris in at least one of their favorite flicks. For me, it was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Having a chance to tour the collection of vehicles in the museum really gave me a greater appreciation of the style, sophistication and pure muscle of these cars. The engines impressed me the most and I enjoyed that the museum showcased both racing and ‘everyday’ cars. The building itself is built like a Ferrari engine and I think even those with no appreciation or interest in cars would still be impressed by a visit to this museum.

An incredible collection of Parmigiano Reggiano wheels at Hombre farm

An incredible collection of Parmigiano Reggiano wheels at Hombre farm

Parmigiano Reggiano Dairy

A visit to Hombre – a Parmigiano Reggiano dairy farm and Panini Private Collection – is a must for anybody stopping in or around Modena. Starting off as just a side-project for Umberto Panini in the 80’s, the Parmigiano-Reggiano farm soon turned into a full-time business. The storage facility, where they keep the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese while it ages, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before; there are wheels upon wheels of cheese as far as the eye can see. We were fortunate enough to sample some, and unlike the kind you find in Canada, this was served thick and tasted infinitely better.

Emilia-Romagna Photo Essay

Views of Bologna city from a high vantage point

Views of Bologna city from a high vantage point

Making Italian pasta from scratch with our hands at Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli

Making Italian pasta from scratch with our hands at Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli

Making Italian pasta using a rolling pin in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Making Italian pasta using a rolling pin in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Wow! We actually created all of those different kinds of pasta. Of course with lots of help ;)

Wow! We actually created all of those different kinds of pasta. Of course with lots of help 😉

Our first round of appetizers for lunch in Italy

Our first round of appetizers for lunch in Italy

A big chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with a knife beside it

A big chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with a knife beside it

A glorious plate of Italian deli meat in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

A glorious plate of Italian deli meat in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

A tour of the cellar where we could see many barrels in Emilia-Romagna

A tour of the cellar where we could see many barrels of balsamic vinegar

Views from the Antica Corte Pallavivina Relais

Views from the Antica Corte Pallavicina

A close-up shot of one of the wheels of a racing car on display at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

A close-up shot of one of the wheels of a racing car on display at the Enzo Ferrari Museum

A close-up shot of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel at Hombre farm

A close-up shot of a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel at Hombre farm

Hunks of meat in casings hanging up to dry in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Hunks of meat in casings hanging up to dry in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Well that is wrap from Emilia-Romagna! Have you visited this beautiful region of Italy before? What food or travel related activity would you most enjoy trying from our itinerary? Do you have a favorite Italian food? Please let me know in the comments section below:

This post was brought to you as a result of the #EuroFoodTrip campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Costa Brava & Girona Pyrenees and Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all thoughts remain my own.

 

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Winter travel tips to get you through airport security quickly http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-tips/winter-travel-tips-get-airport-security-quickly http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-tips/winter-travel-tips-get-airport-security-quickly#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:33:12 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24042 Travelling with the family can be challenging, especially when you get to airport security. Following these tips from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will not only help bring the stress level down, but also get you through the checkpoint faster and easier.

flying-over-snowcapped-mountains

Download CATSA’s app

Go to CATSA’s website (catsa.gc.ca) and download their “Breeze through security” mobile app. In addition to wait times, you’ll find information on what you can and can’t bring through security and helpful tips about the screening process.

Remember the 100ml rule

Put large containers of liquids, aerosols and gels in your checked baggage. Only amounts less than 100 ml, placed in a 1 L clear, re-sealable plastic bag, are permitted in your carry-on baggage. This includes beverages and non-solid food (e.g. yogurt, pudding and peanut butter). However, beverages and food for children under the age of two are exempt from these restrictions (e.g. breast milk, formula, juice and purees). Keep these items within reach as they need to be inspected separately.

Pins_Holiday_Final concepts

Leave gifts unwrapped

If you’re bringing gifts, leave them unwrapped in case their contents may need to be inspected. Some airports have gift-wrapping services located past security during the holiday season.

How to pack your electronics for airport security

Bringing your children’s electronic games is a good way to keep them busy at the airport. To save time leave small electronic devices like tablets, e-books, cameras and handheld video games in their cases or in your carry-on baggage for screening, then simply place the case or baggage in the bin. If you travel with large electronic items like laptops, DVD players, netbooks, notebooks or game consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.) you need to remove them from your carry-on baggage and place them separately in a bin. Make sure there are no other items on top or underneath.

holday_catsa_pins_en-04

Choose easy-to-remove outerwear

Make sure the little ones can easily remove winter jackets, boots and hats. These items must be placed in bins for screening.

Look for the Family/Special Needs lane

If you need help at the checkpoint, look for the Family/Special Needs lane. It features screening equipment that can accommodate larger items, like car seats and strollers, and screening officers who offer additional assistance.

Have your boarding passes ready

Remember to have all family members’ boarding passes ready for inspection.

 

If you have more questions about the screening process,  you can find answers online at catsa.gc.ca, on the go with CATSA’s mobile app or on social media (Twitter: @catsa_gc, Pinterest: CATSAGC). You can also watch short info video on CATSA’s YouTube channel. Bon voyage!

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Costa Brava Guide for Foodies #EuroFoodTrip http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/costa-brava-travel-guide-food-lovers http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/costa-brava-travel-guide-food-lovers#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 04:26:35 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24049 Our lovely boat the Charter San Isidre that took us sailing along the Cap de Creus Natural Park

Our lovely boat the Charter San Isidre that took us sailing along the Cap de Creus Natural Park

Last year Audrey and I were fortunate enough to visit Spain for the first time. With limited time in the country, we keyed in on Madrid and Barcelona and really enjoyed both cities, however, we left Spain feeling as though we had only scratched the surface of what the country has to offer.

With this in mind when we had the opportunity to head back to Spain and visit a different region (Costa Brava) we jumped at the opportunity. We’re realizing as of late that we enjoy a slower pace of travel and we are wanting to spend more time in nature, eating slow food and really immersing ourselves in local culture. Costa Brava, the Catalan ‘wild coast’ situated in the coastal region of northeastern Spain, offered exactly that!

Snails as an appetizer for dinner during our Euro Food Trip

Snails as an appetizer for dinner during our Euro Food Trip

For those who fancy relaxing sailing trips, fresh seafood, inviting vineyards, adventurous hot air balloon rides and slow dining over many glasses of wine, join us as we share our journey from Cadaqués to Girona featuring all of the travel and food highlights in between.

 
VIDEO: Costa Brava Travel Guide for Food Lovers
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/Gaig7nYY9kk

Views of Cadaqués from our sailboat on Cap de Creus Natural Park

Views of Cadaqués from our sailboat on Cap de Creus Natural Park

Sailing and Seafood

Driving late at night down a serpentine road we arrived at Cadaqués. Given it was around midnight when we checked in, it wasn’t until the following morning that we were truly able to appreciate just how cute and picturesque the town really is. After enjoying a leisurely walk down to the harbour, that morning we set sail aboard Charter San Isidre touring Cap de Creus Natural Park. On board the sailing boat we had ample time to relax and really take in the scenery.

Delicious seafood pasta (Fideuà) for our main course during our sailing trip in Costa Brava

Delicious seafood pasta (Fideuà) for our main course during our sailing trip in Costa Brava

After anchoring the boat and enjoying a bit of swimming it was time for lunch and our crew had a real treat prepared for us. As a lover of fresh fish and seafood, I enjoyed every bite of fideuà, mussels and drunken sponge cake (bizcochos borrachos) from a generous spread laid out before us. Out of everything served, my favourite had to be the drunken sponge cake with its syrupy liquor that soaked into the cake. It was ever so sweet, yet it burned a bit as it went down my throat.

I had a chance to harvest grapes during our winetasting tour at La Vinyeta Cellar

I had a chance to harvest grapes during our wine tasting tour at La Vinyeta Cellar

Grape Harvesting and Wine Tasting

I’ve been on some rather dull wine tours before – the kind where facts are heavy and experiences are light. Fortunately, our visit to La Vinyeta Cellar was anything but that! In fact, I’d go as far as saying it was the most immersive vineyard experience I’ve ever had. Aside from getting to harvest the grapes (yes, they put us to work) we then had a chance to stomp them in a barrel before sampling a generous spread of cheese and meats to go along with our wine.

One of the workers from La Vinyeta Cellar (Mollet de Peralada) harvesting grapes with a big smile on his face in Costa Brava

The owner of La Vinyeta Cellar (Mollet de Peralada) harvesting grapes with a big smile on his face in Costa Brava

That afternoon was the classic example of why I enjoy travel; it all has to do with being surrounded by great company, experiencing new things and enjoying incredible food and drink. Check. Check. Check 🙂

Preparing our hot air balloon for our ride over la Garrotxa

Preparing our hot air balloon for our ride over la Garrotxa

Hot Air Balloon Ride

If you’ve been following my travel blog for a while you’re well aware of the fact that I’m terrified of heights. The allure of going on my first ever hot air balloon ride and having the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone was at a tug-of-war with my fear and anxiety. I actually plan on writing an entire post on that experience, so I’ll keep this very brief. I’m sure glad I did it. I was nervous, but it got better as the journey progressed and the views of the Pyrenees were incredible.

Sampler plate at Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Catalan, Spain

Sampler plate at Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Catalan, Spain

2nd Best Restaurant in the World!

Well, let me start off by saying that it is not exactly every day that you get to eat at the second best restaurant in the world. Having an opportunity to gormandize on a spread of appetizers was one of the highlights of being in Girona.

A behind the scenes look from the kitchen staff hard at work at Celler de Can Roca in Girona

A behind- the-scenes look of the kitchen staff hard at work at Celler de Can Roca in Girona

Food that only can be imagined by creative geniuses was served to us as I got to sample exotic delicacies such as anchovies ice cream. However, my favourite one of all was a platter called Around The World with many Asian inspired bite-sized treats. Having an opportunity to be a fly-on-the-wall inside of the kitchen really gave me a greater appreciation for the level of detail that is involved at this restaurant.

Gorgeous colorful architecture and reflections in the water during our Girona walking tour

Gorgeous colorful architecture and reflections in the water during our Girona walking tour

Girona Walking Tour

Girona is one of those cities that has a town feel. You wander around and you have all the attractions of a bigger city yet without the hustle and bustle and grittiness that often defines it. Although we only had a brief walking tour with a gelato in hand, I was impressed by the colorful apartments, historical architecture and general laid-back vibe of the city. I’d love to return again someday and shoot a city video guide focusing on the town’s architecture, narrow pedestrian streets and ancient city walls.

A delicious spread of meat and cheeses to accompany our wine during our visit to La Vinyeta Cellar

A delicious spread of meat and cheeses to accompany our wine during our visit to La Vinyeta Cellar

Food and Wine!

The food and wine we experienced on our trip was simply splendid. We didn’t have one single bad meal. What really stood out for me was the quality of the cheeses and meats. At every meal I struggled to control myself even though I had every intention of not stuffing my face.

Nicholas Montemaggi showing us how to drink wine from a traditional porro

Nicholas Montemaggi showing us how to drink wine from a traditional porró

My favorite experience was learning how to drink wine from a traditional porró. Best described as a traditional wine pitcher, it resembles something of a wine bottle morphed with a watering can. The goal is to pour wine directly into your mouth from as far away as possible. I must have had some beginners luck because it wasn’t until near the end that I sprayed it all over face 😉

Costa Brava Photo Essay

Views of the gorgeous white architecture of Cadaqués from our sailboat in Costa Brava, Catalan, Spain

Views of the gorgeous white architecture of Cadaqués from our sailboat in Costa Brava, Spain

Delicious mussels served for lunch during our Cap deCreus Natural Park sailing trip

Delicious mussels served for lunch during our Cap de Creus Natural Park sailing trip

For dessert we had drunken sponge cake (Bizcochos Borrachos)! It was delicious.

For dessert we had drunken sponge cake (Bizcochos Borrachos)! It was delicious.

Audrey Bergner and our Costa Brava leader Jaume take a break from squashing grapes to smile for the camera

Audrey Bergner and our Costa Brava leader Jaume take a break from squashing grapes to smile for the camera

Close up shot of Audrey Bergner's (aka That Backpacker) feet stomping on grapes at La Vinyeta Cellar

Close up shot of someone’s feet stomping on grapes at La Vinyeta Cellar

The grape stomping squad at La Vinyeta Cellar (Mollet de Peralada) in Costa Brava

The grape stomping squad at La Vinyeta Cellar (Mollet de Peralada) in Costa Brava

Audrey Bergner snapping photos during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava

Audrey snapping photos during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava

Stunning views from above during our first ever hot air balloon ride

Stunning views from above during our first ever hot air balloon ride

A family enjoying a selfie portrait on the steps of the cathedral in Girona, Costa Brava

A family enjoying a selfie portrait on the steps of the cathedral in Girona

A shot of the cathedral in Girona from a low vantage point

A shot of the cathedral in Girona from a low vantage point

Figs with goat cheese. One of my favorite appetizers we had for dinner during our Costa Brava food trip

Figs with goat cheese. One of my favorite appetizers we had for dinner during our Costa Brava food trip

Sun reflecting off of the water during our sailing trip in Costa Brava

Sun reflecting off of the water during our sailing trip in Costa Brava

That is a wrap from beautiful Costa Brava! Have you visited this beautiful region before? Do you want to go? Let me know in the comment section below.

This post was brought to you as a result of the #EuroFoodTrip campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Costa Brava & Girona Pyrenees and Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all thoughts remain my own.

 

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Edinburgh Travel Guide for Foodies #ScotSpirit #OMGB http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/edinburgh-travel-food-guide http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/edinburgh-travel-food-guide#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 13:10:54 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24023 View of Edinburgh Caste on a gorgeous sunny day

View of Edinburgh Caste on a gorgeous sunny day

Having visited Edinburgh a few years ago for Hogmanay, I was thrilled when Audrey and I had a chance to return again. This time we traded out winter jackets for fall attire, and the milder weather meant we spent a lot more time exploring areas outside of Old Town and New Town. We had one full week in Edinburgh, and aside from exploring the sights, we also made it our mission to sample a lot of the food, ranging from traditional Scottish dishes to contemporary Scottish cuisine. The following is a travel guide for foodies showcasing 20 things to do in Edinburgh.

A shot of me taking some photos and video from a high vantage point in Edinburgh, Scotland

A shot of me taking some photos and video from a high vantage point in Edinburgh, Scotland

 
VIDEO: Our 20 things to do in Scotland travel guide
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/qssNOAnuK0g

20 things to do in Edinburgh

Views of Edinburgh Castle on an overcast afternoon from a far away vantage point

Views of Edinburgh Castle on an overcast afternoon from a far away vantage point

1) Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is easily the most iconic site in the city, and because it dominates the skyline, you’ll naturally get to view it from numerous vantage points across the city. As fun as it is to photograph it from a distance, a visit to the castle is an absolute must. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore Edinburgh Castle, because it is not just a single building. Some of the things you can do once inside include a tour of the Royal Palace, viewing the Crown Jewels, stepping inside St. Margaret’s Chapel and wandering around the National War Museum. In other words, don’t plan a rushed visit!

Making my own blend of whiskey at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

Making my own blend of whiskey at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

2) Scotch Whisky Experience

How often do you get to blend your own Scotch Whisky? The Scotch Whisky Experience offers a variety of tours and we ended up taking the Blend Your Own session. We had a really fun afternoon learning to identify various aromas in whisky, but the best part was the blending session. We each walked away with our own personalized bottle to take home as a souvenir.

 
VIDEO: Drinking Scotch Whisky in Edinburgh, Scotland
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/IKy_mlxQVIc

Various souvenirs and kilts for sale along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

Various souvenirs and kilts for sale along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland

3) Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is easily the most hectic and touristy street in Edinburgh’s Old Town and it features an eclectic mix of pubs, shops and restaurants; however, it is still certainly worth a visit. Here you can pick up all kinds of Scottish souvenirs including kilts, tablet and tartans. If you’re here in the summer you can also check out the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

4) Edinburgh Walking Tours

Edinburgh is a city offering more random tours than I’ve witnessed anywhere else. Of course, you can take a standard city tour but you also have a haunted tour, a literary tour and a Harry Potter tour worth considering. And that is just a few of them! Basically, there is something for everyone.

Haggis, neeps and tatties for lunch in Edinburgh, Scotland at Whiski Rooms

Haggis, neeps and tatties for lunch in Edinburgh, Scotland at Whiski Rooms

5) Haggis, neeps & tatties

No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without some haggis, neeps and tatties. One of our favorite restaurants to have this traditional Scottish dish is Whiski Rooms. For this delicious meal we frequented this fine establishment with our good pal Rob – a gregarious gent of many travel quotes and other interesting anecdotes about life. The place itself has a cozy yet laidback atmosphere while the food and service is ace.

 
VIDEO: Eating Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for lunch in Edinburgh, Scotland
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/l9Pr0PuDsT4

If you’ve never tried Haggis before let me start off by saying it tastes much better than it sounds! What exactly does it consist of? Well, haggis is sheep’s pluck containing heart, liver and lungs along with spices, oatmeal and onions cooked inside of the sheep’s stomach. It is often served with neeps and tatties (Scots for turnips and potatoes) and a plentiful amount of gravy.

It is a savory dish that sticks to your ribs. Although I’d recommend having it anytime of year, it certainly is the kind of food that is most appreciated during fall and/or winter. My suggestion is to just drown it all in gravy and dig right in. You may be pleasantly surprised. I certainly was.

6) Holyrood Palace

Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Palace. This is the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland and it is a place steeped in history. You can grab a headset on your way in and enjoy an audio tour of the palace at your own pace marveling at the Royal Collection of art.

7) Holyrood Abbey and Garden

Nestled just behind Holyrood Palace is Holyrood Abbey and Garden. I recommend wandering around here at a leisurely place to relax and snap photos of the palace.

Dimly lit gin den at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery

Dimly lit gin den at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery

8) Edinburgh Gin Distillery

If hunkering down in a cozy den and sampling numerous kinds of gin sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon, then you’ll love Edinburgh Gin.

 
VIDEO: Visiting Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour in Scotland
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/iUc67kLa4Bw

Learning about the equally tragic yet humorous history of gin in Edinburgh was a big highlight of the tour, and we had a wonderful guide who kept our entire group engaged. After learning about the history of gin, we ended up moving into the den for the sampling session. Be sure to try the Cannonball; coming in at 57.2% it was the most potent gin I’ve ever had.

9) National Museum of Scotland

If you only have time for one museum during your trip to Edinburgh make sure it is the National Museum of Scotland. The museum offers numerous exhibitions with notable artifacts including the Migdale Hoard, Bute Mazer and the stuffed remains of Dolly the first cloned sheep. As a bonus tip be sure to head to the seventh floor for some of the most underrated views of the city.

10) Princes Street Garden

Princes Street Gardens is another great place to visit, especially on a sunny day. If you had visited during the Medieval Ages, you would have found a swampy, polluted loch, but today it’s one of the nicest green spaces in the city. It is perfect for picnics, family outings, leisurely strolls and first dates.

11) Dean Village

Maybe the most underrated and picturesque place we visited in Edinburgh was Dean Village. Offering a refreshingly calm and chill vibe you are mere minutes away from the city core yet you feel far enough removed. Meaning ‘deep valley’, one of the best vantage points is from the Water of Leith. Our suggestion is to come early in the morning when no one else is around and be sure to bring your camera.

A shot from Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland

A shot from Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland

12) Calton Hill

One of the easiest hikes (more like a walk) is to journey up to the top of Calton Hill. Here you’ll find Edinburgh’s most iconic monuments including the Stewart Dugald Monument, The National Monument and the Nelson Monument. Although it is a short and easy climb you’ll be amazed at the views you get of Edinburgh city, the Fifth of Forth and the surrounding countryside.

Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Scotland

Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Scotland

13) Scott Monument

If you’re afraid of heights you may want to sit this one out. I personally am but instead I mustered up enough courage points to wind my way around a tiny spiraling staircase to the top of Scott Monument. Built in honour of Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott, it is the largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world. As you ascend to the top you’ll have access to different viewing platforms where you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the New Town.

14) Royal Botanic Garden

Although it just started to rain as I visited, for a little taste of nature, you can visit the Royal Botanic Garden which is a comfortable walking distance from New Town. The impressive gardens are free to visit although entry to the concessions and glasshouse is £3.50.

15) Eat Walk Edinburgh

If you like eating as much as we do ,consider taking a food tour with Eat Walk Edinburgh. The half and half component of the tour  was really appealing as we had an opportunity to learn more about the history of Edinburgh while burning off calories in between bites.

 
VIDEO: Scottish Food and Edinburgh city tour in Scotland
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/-PYdlQraVcQ

We popped into restaurants, shops and pubs which I thought was a great way to keep things interesting and I really enjoyed having an opportunity to interact with some of the shop owners who are very passionate about what they do.

One of the highlights was visiting the Fudge House. I’ve got an on-demand sweet tooth and fudge is a bit like my kryptonite but I loved getting to sample a few flavors before choosing one bar out of twenty different varieties to eat on the way home. I kid you not, it was the hardest decision I had to make all week. 😉

16) Closes in Old Town

Another great way to explore Edinburgh by foot is to wander down the tiny closes. These small alleys were often named after a memorable occupant, and the Old Town is full of them including Mary King’s Close, Anchor Close and Carrubber’s Close.

A shot of St Giles Cathedral - a major landmark - in Edinburgh, Scotland

A shot of St Giles Cathedral – a major landmark – in Edinburgh, Scotland

17) St. Giles Cathedral

While you’re wandering around the Old Town, you’ll notice the iconic landmark St. Giles Cathedral along the Royal Mile. Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh it was named after the city’s patron saint.

18) Scottish National Gallery

As the national art gallery of Scotland it is definitely worth paying a visit to the Scottish National Gallery. Located on The Mount in central Edinburgh nearby the Scott Monument this neoclassic building houses national and international art dating back to the Renaissance up until the 20th century.

19) Scottish National Portrait Gallery

If you’re over on Queen Street check out the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. With over 300 paintings and sculptures along with 25,000 prints and drawings and a whopping 35,000 photographs, you’ll want to set aside a decent chunk of time to properly explore this massive collection of portraits.

Musicians playing guitar as part of the nightlife scene in Edinburgh, Scotland

Musicians playing guitar as part of the nightlife scene in Edinburgh, Scotland

20) Nightlife in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is not surprisingly blessed with legendary nightlife whether it’s a cozy pub, a live band, or a ceilidh you’re after there is something for everyone.

Edinburgh Photo Essay

Cannonball Navy Strength Edinburgh Gin

Cannonball Navy Strength Edinburgh Gin

Timberyard clipboard menu for lunch in Edinburgh, Scotland

Timberyard clipboard menu for lunch in Edinburgh, Scotland

Beetroot fish salad dish in Edinburgh, Scotland

Beetroot fish salad dish in Edinburgh, Scotland

A busy kitchen scene in Edinburgh, Scotland

A busy kitchen scene in Edinburgh, Scotland

A Scottish man blowing on the bagpipes along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

A Scottish man blowing on the bagpipes along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

A man playing the bagpipes in Edinburgh, Scotland

A man playing the bagpipes in Edinburgh, Scotland

Cannons overlooking Edinburgh Castle

Cannons overlooking Edinburgh Castle

Rooftop views of Edinburgh, Scotland

Rooftop views of Edinburgh, Scotland

A series of three old phone booths in Edinburgh, Scotland

A series of three old phone booths in Edinburgh, Scotland

Well, that’s a wrap from Edinburgh, Scotland! Now it is your turn. Have you visited Edinburgh before? Is it a city that you’re itching to explore? Anything in the guide you feel we missed out on? Please let us know in the comments section below.

This trip was part of a partnership with Visit Britain and iambassador

 

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World Nomad Games #DiscoverKyrgyzstan http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/world-nomad-games-kyrgyzstan http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/world-nomad-games-kyrgyzstan#comments Mon, 07 Nov 2016 11:27:30 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=24009 Opening Ceremony fireworks to kick of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Opening Ceremony fireworks to kick of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Being nomadic and traveling nearly 365 days of the year is in many ways a dream job for me. However, one thing that I really miss about being back home in Canada is having the opportunity to follow sports throughout the year. When I had the opportunity to attend the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan, the dormant sports junkie inside of me jumped at the opportunity.

World Nomad Games Intro

The World Nomad Games are a sports and cultural event held in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, and they are an attempt to preserve and promote nomadic culture and traditions throughout Central Asia. This was only the second year the event was held, yet it featured 23 sports and drew athletes from over 40 different countries.

The following post will share some of the highlights of the World Nomad Games through photos and videos.

World Nomad Games Video:


In this video you’ll see our experience attending the World Nomad Games
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/KwDoJVCLm2Y

World Nomad Games: Favorite Sports

As mentioned previously there were 23 different sports at the World Nomad Games. Here is a brief overview of some of my personal favourite sports. Keep in mind none of these sports were familiar to me at all prior to attending the games!

Kok-boru:

This sport was my personal favorite and it was definitely the most popular event at the World Nomad Games. Basically, two teams on horseback play something that sort of resembles polo, except instead of using a ball, they’re carrying and tossing a goat carcass with the intention of scoring a goal against their opponent. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get right on the field during the game. I got a little overzealous at one point getting too close to the action and I had to retreat suddenly as horse-mounted players galloped in my direction. My favorite match was between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan with the Krygyz team coming out on top.

Mas-wrestling:

Two wrestlers face each other with the soles of their feet on opposite sides of a wooden board. In their hands they’re holding a stick, and it’s basically a tug-o-war to either get the stick or pull their opponent over to their side of the board. These typically massive men were physically exhausted by the end of a match even if the game only lasted a few brief seconds.

Salbuurun:

This was my favorite hunting/prey event involving eagles. The competition was to see how fast eagles can fly while chasing after a fox skin over a stretch of 200 meters. It wasn’t only the human athletes that impressed me during these games!

Here is a complete list of the sports from the World Nomad Games.

World Nomad Games Photo Essay

Now, my favorite photos from the World Nomad Games in no particular order.

One of the traditional Kyrgyz swings with two people standing up going back and forth at the World Nomad Games

One of the traditional Kyrgyz swings with two people swinging back and forth at the World Nomad Games

Intense Mas-wrestling match from two competitors at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Intense Mas-wrestling match between two competitors at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Men wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats attending the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Men wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats attending the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A shot of the goat carcass being tossed into the air for a goal during a Kok Boru match between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

A shot of the sheep carcass being tossed into the air for a goal during a Kok Boru match between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

A professional Kok Boru player from Kyrgyzstan about to score a goal during a Kok Boru match at the World Nomad Games

A professional Kok Boru player from Kyrgyzstan about to score a goal during a Kok Boru match at the World Nomad Games

Team Kyrgyzstan and team Kazakhstan shacking hands after a Kok Boru match at the World Nomad Games

Team Kyrgyzstan and team Kazakhstan shacking hands after a Kok Boru match at the World Nomad Games

A traditional Kyrgyz yurt setup during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A traditional Kyrgyz yurt setup during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Men climbing a pole during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Men climbing a pole during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A lady shooting a bow and arrow while standing upside down during the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan

A lady shooting a bow and arrow while standing upside down during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Cheering after a sword fight during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Cheering after a sword fight during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz men squatting down to enjoy a plate of Plov during the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

Kyrgyz men squatting down to enjoy a plate of Plov during the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

A close-up shot of man wearing a traditional hat performing traditional Kyrgyz music at the World Nomad Games

A close-up shot of a man wearing a traditional hat performing traditional Kyrgyz music at the World Nomad Games

A high vantage point view of all of the yurt camp during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A high vantage point view of all of the yurt camp during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A Kyrgyz man wearing a traditional hat clapping during a musical performance at the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan

A Kyrgyz man wearing a traditional hat clapping during a musical performance at the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan

Two Kyrgyz ladies knitting during the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan

Two Kyrgyz ladies showcasing their craft during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

An overhead shot of the crowd at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

An overhead shot of the crowd at the World Nomad Games

A talented performer doing equestrian tricks at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A talented performer doing equestrian tricks at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Two Kyrgyz men with distinct faces at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Two Kyrgyz men with distinct faces at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

An action scene from a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games

An action scene from a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games

Another action shot from the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Another action shot from the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Some Kyrgyz men gather for a quiet picnic at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Some Kyrgyz men gather for a quiet picnic at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A Kok Boru player from Team China carries the goat carcass during a match at the World Nomad Games against the United States of America

A Kok Boru player from Team China carries the goat carcass during a match at the World Nomad Games against the United States

A Chinese Kok Boru player throws the dead carcass into the goal at the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan

A Chinese Kok Boru player throws the goat carcass into the goal at the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan

A man wearing a distinct hat at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

A man wearing a distinct hat at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

An eagle wearing an eye-cover patch during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

An eagle wearing an eye-cover before the start of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A man practicing archery at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

A man practicing archery at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Gorgeous mountain backdrop at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Gorgeous mountain backdrop at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Stunning scenery with mountains in the background at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

Stunning scenery with mountains in the background at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games

A massive collection of arrows hitting the target at the World Nomad Games in Kyygyzstan

A massive collection of arrows hitting the target at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Wrestling event at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan between two men

Wrestling event at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Now it is over to you! Had you previously heard of the World Nomad Games? What do you now think of the event? Any particular sport you’re more interested in viewing as a spectator? Let me know in the comments section below:

This trip was made possible with the support of Discover Kyrgyzstan and USAID. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

 

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Whisky, Gin and Food Tours: Eating and drinking my way around Edinburgh http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/edinburgh-food-drink-tours http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/edinburgh-food-drink-tours#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2016 10:47:13 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23991 Inspecting all of the Whisky bottles on display at the Edinburgh Whisky Experience tour in Edinburgh, Scotland

Inspecting all of the Whisky bottles on display at the Edinburgh Whisky Experience tour in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh happens to be one of my favorite cities in Europe. My first time visiting the city was several years ago for Hogmanay where I experienced the most memorable New Year’s party of my entire life. Having the opportunity to revisit again, during a different time of year (early autumn), was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Edinburgh is world renowned for its medieval Old Town, neoclassical buildings and iconic castle; however, did you know that the city has an underrated (or more like a burgeoning) food and drink scene? Welcoming cafes, trendy restaurants, traditional pubs and fascinating whisky & gin distilleries await those who wander around the city. With a few days to spare in the city I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be part of several food and drink tours that should not be missed by first time visitors to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Some of the eye-candy on display at the Fudge House in Edinburgh, Scotland

Some of the eye-candy on display at the Fudge House in Edinburgh, Scotland

Eat Walk Edinburgh

Let’s start with food! With Eat Walk Edinburgh I joined the Canongate three hour guided tour covering on foot a decent section of the lower part of the Royal Mile. We popped in and out of cafes, restaurants and shops sampling numerous tasty treats and dishes while spending the rest of our time meandering through closes (Scots for alleyways). Highlights of the tour included sampling mini haggis sliders, smoked sheep cheese, Scottish Highland cream fudge and pickled herring paired with beetroot salad. I loved the blend of tasting classic Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist, along with some of the fusion cuisine that is emerging in the city. In terms of drinks, having an opportunity to down some Campbelltown Loch Scotch blended whisky and sip on some local stout beer were highlights. As great as it was learning about the food, drinks and history of the city, my favorite part was having an opportunity to interact with the owners of the various establishments we visited. Talking one on one with folks so passionate about what they do really enhances your appreciation of what it is that you’re eating and drinking.


In this video you’ll see our entire experience with Eat Walk Edinburgh
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/-PYdlQraVcQ

Sharing a laugh with my buddy Rob of Stop Having a Boring Life at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour in Edinburgh, Scotland

Sharing a laugh with my buddy Rob of Stop Having a Boring Life at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Gin Distillery

I’m going to start off by being really honest. Not all vineyard and distillery tours are that interesting. In the past I’ve suffered through some tours where my guide has droned on with facts and figures, production techniques and quotas without any immersive activities or back and forth conversation. Fortunately, our tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery was nothing like that! Our guide Abby entertained us with fascinating tales related to the Edinburgh gin craze before having us sniff and identify some of the botanicals used to make gin. We then moved on to the gin den to crack open some bottles. This cozy little cave offered an ideal social setting for us to consume various types of gin. I found myself surprisingly enjoying some of the stronger variations on offer. We ended getting so cozy inside of the gin den that I could have spent the rest of the afternoon inside of its confines.


Join us by watching this video to see what it is like to take Edinburgh Gin Distillery Tour
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/iUc67kLa4Bw

Making my very own blend of Scotch Whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

Making my very own blend of Scotch Whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Scotch Whisky Experience

Whisky, anyone? Before we move forward let’s get something straight; it is ‘whisky’ without the ‘e’ here in Scotland. Visiting The Scotch Whisky Experience was easily one of the highlights of my entire time in Edinburgh. One of the best and most humbling parts of the tour was the sensory perception test. Ten tiny glass jars with scented cotton were passed around the room and our job was to try and identify the smell and write it down. Well, let’s just say I’m not going to quit my day job of travel blogging and making videos anytime soon. Scoring a pathetic 2 out of 10, it was time to redeem myself in the blender’s room. With single grain, Highland, Lowland, Islay and Speyside it was time to get creative and make our very own blend. I ended up calling mine ‘Sam I Am Shazzam’ with the idea that it was strong and sophisticated much like its creator 😉 Yeah, a bit of stretch there for sure. At the end we had our expert guide do a blind taste test. Guess who won? Not me, but Audrey! At least, now we know we have career options as blenders in the future.  To top things off we then visited the impressive collection of whisky on the wall; 3,384 bottles from around the world were on display with the oldest bottle dating back to 1897.


Here is our video of us enjoying the Scotch Whisky Experience
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/IKy_mlxQVIc

I hope you didn’t read this article on an empty stomach! Which of the three tours tickles your fancy the most? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below.

This trip was part of a partnership with Visit Britain and iambassador

 

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An Introduction to Traditional Kyrgyz Cuisine http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/traditional-kyrgyz-food http://nomadicsamuel.com/photo-essays/traditional-kyrgyz-food#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2016 09:45:02 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23975 Here is an overhead shot of the various kinds of breads and jams you have at a typical Kyrgyz meal

Here is an overhead shot of the various kinds of breads and jams you have at a typical Kyrgyz meal

Traditional Kyrgyz Cuisine

Often when I travel to a new country I have the opportunity to sample the local cuisine in some way, shape or form prior to arrival. Before heading to South Korea for the first time I had bibimbap, samgyeopsal and tteokbokki numerous times in Canada. Prior to visiting Vietnam I already had slurped countless bowls of pho in Vietnamese restaurants all over the world. However, on our recent trip to Kyrgyzstan to cover the World Nomad Games, I arrived not knowing anything about Kyrgyz cuisine; in many ways this was refreshing.

Traditional Kyrgyz food is meat intensive with beef, mutton and horse meat being staples along with numerous types of dairy products. Cooking techniques can be traced back to the nation’s nomadic way of life. Geographically located in the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan historically featured three major routes of the Silk Road gaining influence from cuisine from nearby neighbors such as China and present day Kazakhstan.

Krygyz traditional food prepared in a yurt prior to the main dishes arriving

Krygyz traditional food prepared in a yurt prior to the main dishes arriving

We were fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time gallivanting across the country visiting remote yurts in the countryside and sampling some of the most popular dishes in restaurants in Bishkek. The following is an introduction to traditional Kyrgyz cuisine featuring some must-try dishes.

Here is plov being prepared in a massive cauldron during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Here is plov being prepared in a massive cauldron during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Paloo or Plov

Paloo (палоо) is a rice dish typically featuring garlic, chives, shredded carrots, hot peppers and various other vegetables along with pieces of meat (chicken, mutton, beef) fried together in a massive qazan (cast-iron cauldron). Plov, is a staple dish in Central Asian cuisine and every country in the region has its own unique way of preparing it. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sample it numerous times. My favourite experience was having paloo prepared right before my eyes during the World Nomad Games. It was one dish I instantly fell in love with and if you’re generally a fan of Chinese-style fried rice you’ll likely find this to be amicable to your taste-buds.

Lagman

My favorite meal in Kyrgystan was Lagman (лағмон). This very popular noodle dishes can served fried or in a soup and I ate it more than any other dish during our three week stay in the country. This dish features thick noodles covered in chopped peppers and various other kinds of vegetables, all coated in a spicy vinegar-base sauce. Considered an Uyghur dish with Chinese roots lagman is a staple dish you’ll find in most Kyrgyz restaurants. Try it in a soup and fried and let me know which one you prefer. I like both but when push comes to shove I prefer it fried.

Manti

The first Kyrgyz food I tried upon arrival in Bishkek was Manti (манты). These steamed dumplings can be stuffed with pumpkin, lamb, beef or potatoes, and they reminded me of Korean mandu and Tibetan momo. They’re typically served as a side dish as opposed to being a main dish, but whenever they were in front of me I kept popping them in one after the other. If I had to recommend one kind, I’d say try the pumpkin ones.

Samsa

Have you ever tried samosas before? If so, you’ll find Samsa, a Central Asian staple, to be quite similar. These baked pockets consist of layered pastry dough and are often stuffed with lamb, cheese, chicken, beef, potato or pumpkin. They’re typical Kyrgyz hot street snacks at bazaars and I found myself devouring them at road-stop eateries.  They were the perfect snack anytime I felt peckish in between meals.

Shashlik

If you’re a fan of grilled skewered chunks of meat Shashlik is must-try dish when visiting Kyrgyzstan. Although it can be made from chicken, beef or fish the most common kind (and one I’d recommend the most) is skewered chunks of mutton. Sold on the street or served in restaurants it is very similar to shish kebab. One particular memory I have of eating Shashlik was with a group of friends where it tasted so good that almost all of us ended up ordering a second portion of it.


Here is a video of us eating all of the dishes mentioned in this article
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/YcQZHdOEbFY

Kymyz

You know a drink is of utmost importance to a culture when the capital city (Bishkek) of your country is named after the paddle used to churn it! Kymyz (кымыз), a slightly alcoholic drink made from fermented mare’s milk might be an acquired taste for most foreigners sampling it for the first time. Audrey and I never quite warmed up to it but some other people traveling in our circle liked it instantly. As a fun fact, prior to fermentation mare’s milk has a whopping 40% more lactose than what you’d find in cow’s milk.

Tea plays a very important role in any kind of meal you'll have in Krygyzstan

Tea plays a very important role in any kind of meal you’ll have in Krygyzstan

Tea with Boorsoq

One of the highlights of my trip to Kyrgyzstan was having the opportunity to eat many meals inside of a yurt, especially tea time. Boorsoq, a popular fried dough bread, is typically dipped in jams, honey or butter and served with black tea. Kyrgyz hospitality is beyond generous and you’ll find your cup of tea being refilled constantly by an ever attentive host.

Now it is your turn. Have you tried Kyrgyz food before and/or do any of these dishes leave you intrigued to try them for the first time? Let me know in the comments section below.

Food is being prepared at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

Food is being prepared at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

This trip was made possible with the support of Discover Kyrgyzstan and USAID. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

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Travelcuts Travel Doc Film Fest + Win Your Dream Trip! http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-blog/travelcuts-travel-doc-film-fest http://nomadicsamuel.com/travel-blog/travelcuts-travel-doc-film-fest#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 12:00:08 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23716 If you have some upcoming travels this summer and you’ve been thinking of dabbling with video, DO IT! Not only is video a fun way to document your trip and remember it by, but it could also lead to another great adventure.

This summer, travelcuts is asking you to submit your travel videos for a chance at a great prize. Maybe you’re planning to scuba dive in Honduras, hike Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit, or go on a big cross-country road trip. Whatever your adventure, big or small, travelcuts wants you to bring your camera along and take us on an inspiring journey.

Filming on the Amazon

Filming on the Amazon River

The Prize

Last year, travelcuts asked travellers to submit a short video of their travels, for the chance to WIN a $2,000 travel gift card and some great camera gear. This year, things are bigger and better. By submitting a video, travelcuts is giving you the chance to win a $5,000 travel gift card. You can spend it on flights, hotels, and experiences and make your way to your dream destination.

How to enter:

  • Film your travel adventure and create a 2 minute video that documents the trip.
  • Choose an original soundtrack or a song that is public domain. More details here.
  • Upload your video on YouTube (high-definition 1080p, or higher preferred).

This contest will run from August 18, 2016 – September 15, 2016. The contest is open to all Canadian participants (excluding QC) who are 18+. Please note that in order to attend the screening event, you will need to be 19+ as of October 6, 2016.

*CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR VIDEO*

If you need a little inspiration, here’s a look at where the finalists of 2015 went:

 

 

 

Will you be travelling this summer?
What destination are you most looking forward to filming?

This travel contest is brought to you by travelcuts.

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VIDEO: The best Empanadas in Santiago? http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/best-empanadas-santiago http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/best-empanadas-santiago#respond Sun, 10 Jul 2016 18:24:47 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23747 The best Empanadas in Santiago, Chile?

We often frequent restaurants as we travel around the world based on research and recommendations; however, a third method, and one that is even more exciting, is when we just happen to stumble upon a place that appears to be selling great food. While wandering around just outside of the Central Market in Santiago, we noticed an old fashioned diner that specialized in emapanadas. The line stretched out well beyond the premises and upon returning to the city we hunted this place down and queued just like the locals. After placing our order, one Pino (beef) and one Queso (cheese) empanada, we headed to the main square to devour them. Come find out if these are the best empanadas chilenas in Santiago.

Travel Video: The best Empanadas in Santiago, Chile?

If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/u4ACHfUvVuM

Video Script:

So a couple of weeks ago we were in Santiago, just like on a one day stopover before we went to Valparaiso, and we were walking by the Central Market and we saw this awesome looking empanada place. There was just this insane line, like the line was stretching on right outside of the store. So I just popped in quickly and looked like this really cool like old kind of rustic restaurant. So we’re on a quest to see if we can find that again and get a couple of empanadas for lunch.

So we found this empanada shop. It is called Zunino and it was packed. It is probably about one thirty right now so the line really was stretching out of the establishment but we managed to place our order. We ordered one cheese empanada and one pino empanada. What is kind of unique about that place is that is all that they do. They only have these two varieties. You either get your pino beef or your cheese. So it is a very small selection but I think that means they really know how to make a good empanada.

Alright, and I’m having the cheese one and it is still piping hot. This looks really cool. I can tell that the pastry, already before biting into it, is going to be really flaky. Yeah.

Mmmm. Is that the cheese one for real? Or is it beef? Oh, yeah that is the cheese one. Oh yeah. I don’t know how you can tell. And you know what? This is really good quality one. Like you can tell just from. If you can get close up in on the pastry here. The attention to detail of the pastry like it is just so flaky, lots of layers, buttery and is just melting right in my mouth and then that gooey cheese. Oh, that is just a winning combo.

Alright, so I tried the cheese ones. The cheese one was really tasty. Now time for Pino.

Mmmm. Have a look in there.

Juicy. Look at that.

So, this one has beef, onions and olive. That I’ve got the pit in my mouth right now. Excuse me.

And it also has egg but I haven’t bitten into that part yet. So like it is really nice and juicy inside. It is still warm. What surprises me though is the size. Like when we made our empanada video in San Pedro de Atacama like those were massive empanadas. They were almost like bigger than like a main course plate. But these are more snack sized right? Yeah, I would say they are about half the size of the ones we had in Atacama. Um, so yeah I kind of like it because I struggled to finish those big ones. Like the ones we had in Atacama were really good for sharing but this is like a good individual size. So it is not going to ruin your lunch or dinner so long as you have it as a snack. Mmmm…hmmmm.

And the quality? It is really good. Look at those onions. Ooh.

Okay, so it is now time for price point. How much did those empanadas cost? Yes, so the pino one, which is a beef one, cost 900 and the cheese one, the queso one, cost a 1000, so you’re looking at just over 1 US dollar. So awesome value. I mean, you could just devour several of those and turn it into an entire meal. Yeah, and ordering them is pretty easy. You just walk into the shop and first you get a ticket, you pay for what you want to get and then you take that ticket over to the counter and they’ll help you out. Yeah, it has that kind of old-time diner feel and it is really cool. It is an experience just going into the restaurant. And if you want to eat in there, there is only standing room. They don’t actually have tables and chairs. It is just like you stand around. You stand and you try to get some elbow space. You elbow people.

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VIDEO: Eating Milanesa in Buenos Aires http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/eating-milanesa-buenos-aires http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/eating-milanesa-buenos-aires#respond Fri, 08 Jul 2016 00:02:53 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23743 Eating Milanesa in Buenos Aires, Argentina

During our first brief visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina we visited El Club de la Milanesa for lunch and it was one of the better meals we had in the city. Coming back again we just had to show you the sampler platter we ordered that came with seven different fillets of Milanesa along with loaded cheese fries and a salad. Come find out what this dish, brought to Argentina by Italian immigrants, is all about.

Travel Video: Eating Milanesa in Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/9XcxtQFkx8U

Video Script:

Well hello from Buenos Aires! It is lunchtime in the city and today we have a very special meal planned for you. And for us because we’re going to be eating it. We’re going to a place called El Club de la Milanesa and they specialize in Milanesas. And we’re been there once before, we loved it, we knew we had to go back and make a video. So let’s get going.

Well, we are here. This restaurant has several locations across the city. And today we’re eating at the one in Recoleta.

Have you chosen what you want for lunch Sam? I think we’re getting pretty close to ordering our meal, yeah. Yeah.

So they have some pretty cool napkins. Comé Sin Culpa means eat without guilt. And we’re pretty good at that. Oh yeah.

Okay, so we have placed our order and now we’re just filling up on bread until it comes. But Sam, can you tell us what a Milanesa is for people who aren’t too familiar with this dish?

Sure, so Milanesa is basically a meat fillet that has been dipped in egg and coated in bread and then deep-fried. So it is somewhat similar to a Schnitzel but it has a very unique Argentine twist. Yeah, it is really good. It is thinner than a Schnitzel actually. And it is usually veal but it can also be beef or chicken. Yeah.

So we’ll actually have to try these in order to be able to tell you what they are exactly. But at first glance this looks like guacamole, barbecue sauce, mustard, this looks like mozzarella cheese with a tomato and basil, this one is ham and cheese and tomato sauce, this is a cream of cheddar and melted cheddar with bacon over top. We couldn’t decide which one to order so why not get a sampler portion. Yeah, so we get seven different ones to sample and that comes with a salad and these delicious potatoes. Cheesy fries.

Alright, looks good. Let’s get all of the toppings on there. Mmmm.

How is that? Oh, yeah. So that is veal, cheddar cheese, a little bit of bacon. Um, and like thinly sliced spring onions on top. And it is really tender meat. Like it is so soft. Wow.

So I am having the Caprese one which is spinach, cheese which appears to be mozzarella and tomato. I think that is actually basil but we’ll let it slide. That’s really good. When you add the tomato like that it gives it an extra bit of juiciness which I really like. Nice and fresh. Good stuff.

Next up guacamole. Yeah, this looks a little bit Mexican. Let’s see. I’m going to try some of this.

Mmmm.

That’s good guacamole. It has lots of lime. It also has tomatoes and I think I’m having parsley. Not cilantro. I can usually tell when it is cilantro. That is pretty special. But yeah, another good one.

Alright, next up. This one appears to have ham, tomato sauce and cheese as a topping.

Mmmm.

Wow. You know what, I thought just the kind of cheese they may put on top of this might be processed or kind of low quality but this is really good high quality cheese. And so far this one is by far my favorite.

Okay, yet another. Any idea what this one is? I think it is barbecue sauce. Just at first glance. It smells like it. We’ll see.

Let’s get that on there. Mmmm. It is barbecue sauce. And you know what. I grew up eating Milanesas but I never would have thought to put barbecue sauce on it. That is pretty unusual. But it works. I actually like it. I think it may be one of my favorites so far. She’s taking a second bite.

And that one appears to have pickle. Yeah, let’s see. It looks like Dijon mustard. It has a pickle, it has some bacon and spring onions.

That’s Dijon mustard for sure. Again, that is a bit unusual. I tend to only put mustard on hot-dogs or sausages so I’ve never had it with Milanesa before. But it works. It is different.

Alright, and last but not least, I’ve got one that appears to have cream of cheddar with some bacon added.

Mmmmm.

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. That’s like having high Cheese Whiz put on top. And then you add a little bacon. Big time winning combo. Big time.

Okay, so this right here I’m really excited about. This is our side dish and it is called papas criminales. Criminal potatoes. And again, this looks like an Argentinian twist on the Canadian poutine. So it is French Fries with lots of different toppings. So let’s take a little tour of the bowl and I’m going to tell you what is in here. So we have mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese and we have red onions and some paprika and spring onions. So why don’t we just mix it all around. Oh, and scrambled eggs, oh and bacon. It is the dish that keeps on giving.

Look at that. A little bit of everything. Oh my, I love poutine so this right up my alley. Look at that. Mmmm.

Nothing healthy about it I bet it is amazing. I know. Our main order of Milanesa came with these potatoes and a salad. And I think the salad is going to be a little bit neglected on this meal.

So we’re finishing up the meal and Sam has altogether given up on cutlery. It’s caveman style the rest of the way to finish all of this. Yeah.

Well, we sure took care of that. We demolished that. How are you feeling? This is a classic case of my eyes being a little bigger than my stomach. I am not full. I’m beyond full. So basically my siesta is going to be starting really early today and I think I’m going to be having a longer one than usual.

Alright, and if someone wants to try to get similarly stuffed like we did what would they be looking at in terms of price? Okay, so that whole sampler with the potatoes, you know the criminal potatoes and the salad came to over 300 Pesos and that is just over twenty US dollars. So not a bad price for feeding two grown people. Yeah, we could have used a third person honestly. Yeah. Bring a friend.

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VIDEO: #eatArgentina – Argentine food series http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/eat-argentina-argentine-food-series http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/eat-argentina-argentine-food-series#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 20:41:57 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23739 #eatArgentina – Argentine food series from Buenos Aires

Hey guys! We’re thrilled to announce a new Argentine food series from Buenos Aires: #eatArgentina

The plan, now that we’re back in Buenos Aires for a month, is to make as many food vlogs as we possibly can all over the city. We’re looking for suggestions of Argentinian foods to eat and restaurants where we can try the specific dishes. Our preference would be to know of restaurants in the Recoleta and Centro barrios since our apartment is within walking distance from there. We’re hoping to make this series as comprehensive as possible so any input and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Travel Video: #eatArgentina – Argentine food series from Buenos Aires

If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/6hrRw9lGKu8

Video Script:

So this vlog is short and sweet. It is just a little update to let you guys know what we’re up to.

So, basically after traveling for about two and a half months around South America we were ready for a little bit of a break. You know, we’re a bit tired.

Yes, it is so great to just be in one place for a little while. Honestly.

Yeah, so we decided to come to Buenos Aires and we’re renting an apartment for a little over a month and we’re just going to be hanging out here, catching up on work and actually the plan is also to film a lot of food videos. We want to showcase Argentinian food and what better place to do it than in the capital.

Yeah, we think it is one of the great cuisines of South America. Not just in South America but anywhere in the world. There is so much fantastic food to have.

So the series name is going to be #eatArgentina and the plan is to have a new video coming out every Friday. We’re hoping that this series can run all the way up to September potentially.

So that is where you come in. We need your suggestions of what we should eat here in Argentina. We kind of already know the staples like steak, empanadas, medialunas but we would love to have your suggestions for dishes we should try and also restaurants we should check out. Yes.

So we’re going to be based in the neighborhood of Recoleta, so if you know any places in that area or perhaps elsewhere in the city let us know in the comments below.

Yeah, especially in that area and also around the Centro area. Kind of around Avenida Corrientes. That is we’re within walking distance from those places. So there is a greater chance we can visit a restaurants in and around that area.

Yeah, so we look forward to your suggestions and it is going to be a lot of fun filming because the food here is delicious. Yes, super excited.

Yeah, so we hope you guys enjoy the videos and those are coming up soon.

Tata! Tata!

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VIDEO: Chorrillana – Chilean Snack in Santiago, Chile http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/chorrillana-typical-chilean-snack-santiago-chile http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/chorrillana-typical-chilean-snack-santiago-chile#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 20:49:34 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23734 Chorrillana: Typical Chilean Snack in Santiago, Chile

One of the classic Chilean snack food dishes worth trying when visiting Santiago is something called Chorrillana. This dish, which is worth sharing with a friend of two, is basically a mountain of french fries with sliced beef, fried egg and fried onion on top. We’ve now had it enough times to realize no two restaurants make it the same. We’ve seen fried egg versus scrambled egg, tenderloin versus sliced sausage and several different ways of preparing the onion. At the restaurant we filmed this video (Galindo) they prepared it with tenderloin, scrambled egg and caramelized onions. We’ve also heard of chorizo, tomatoes and even bananas being thrown on top of the fries! It’s the kind of dish, much like poutine in Canada, where you can play around with it to suit any kind of taste. Regardless, be sure to bring your appetite (and possibly a friend or two) because portions tend to be huge and we struggled to finish ours. You can pick one up in a typical Chilean restaurant or Chilean pub.

Travel Video: Chorrillana: Typical Chilean Snack in Santiago, Chile

If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/orfjaAUOZnE

Video Script:

So it is time for a little afternoon snack in Santiago. Today we’re at a restaurant called Galindo and we’re going to be trying a dish that is called Chorrillana. And this is a lot like a Canadian poutine. Now if you’re not too familiar with Canadian poutine that is kind of like when you get some French Fries with gravy and cheese and other ingredients over top. So this is going to be similar but with a Chilean twist so we’re waiting for the food to arrive now.

Well as you can see the food has arrived and the funny part is this is listed as an appetizer or a starter for one person. If you have a look at that, that is enough to feed two grown people. I think Sam and I are going to struggle with this. It is our main. It is our main. Definitely.

Alright Sam, so it is time to give us the tour of the plate. Yes, so before I tuck into this tasty little treat I’m going to explain what we’ve got here. So we have tenderloin, onion and scrambled egg on top of those french fries. It is actually a little bit different from the first time we tried Chorrillana because they put a fried egg on top and also sausage. Yes. But this has a lot more meat. This is a very generous portion.

So dig right in hungry boy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yeah. Enjoying that meat? Oh, yeah. Wow, those are like really tasty onions. You can tell they’ve been marinated in something. I think they’re caramelized. Yeah, caramelized onions I think. And the french fries are a golden perfection. It is just going to be an awesome filling carb loaded delicious little treat.

So we’ve had this dish a few times since we’ve arrived in Santiago and no two Chorrillanas are the same. This one is different, I mean it has no sausage or hot dogs and that was our first experience trying Chorrillanas. And also this one has scrambled eggs instead of fried egg on top. So it is kind of nice that you can always find a bit of variety when you go to a different restaurant. And I think I am ready for my first bite. Got a little bit of everything in there.

Mmmm.

Wow. That meat is tender isn’t it? It is tender. It is tenderloin, so it should be tender. It should be tender. Wow. That is nice. In a way it is kind of nice that they only have the beef and there is no sausage because like this is a really good cut of meat. It is very juicy so the flavors really come through. You don’t have too many competing tastes. Yeah, you don’t need a whole lot of ingredients with this dish. Not when it is done well.

So in terms of toppings you can usually get up to three. Today we only have two. We have ketchup and mustard. Sometimes it also comes with mayo. And you know what a little bit of sauce doesn’t hurt, so let’s pour some on. Alright. Pour some on. Yeah, not too much. I like mine oh natural. Woo! Criss Cross it.

So we tried to finish everything but that was just too much food for us. Just too much. Seriously, that was really filling. How are you feeling right now? I’m stuffed. You know what, I think tomorrow I’m going to need to do some kind of like compensation activity. Either going for a long jog or a little walk or a workout or a swim. Something, something.

Alright, but now it is time for the big question. Which do you prefer – Canadian poutine or Chilean Chorrillana?

Well, this is really good but you know what nothing compares to Canadian poutine. That is like in a league of its own. But this is really tasty. And if you want come and try it at this restaurant it is going to be just under 8000 Chilean Pesos which currently is about 10 US dollars. So it is not bad value. Bring a friend or two to help you out. That is my tip.

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VIDEO: San Telmo Sunday Fair http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/san-telmo-sunday-fair http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/san-telmo-sunday-fair#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2016 10:00:27 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23176 San Telmo Sunday Fair

If you’re looking for the ultimate people watching and shopping experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina consider checking out the San Telmo Sunday Fair (Feria De San Telmo) – a bustling hive of activity in terms of souvenir shopping, tango performances, live entertainment, street music and dining options. You guessed it – it happens every Sunday 😉

Travel Video: San Telmo Sunday Fair

If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/UDM0PWxa268

Video Script:

So it is a new day in the city and today we are taking you to a different neighborhood. We’re going to be checking out San Telmo. Yes, and San Telmo is the oldest neighborhood in all of Buenos Aires. It also has a bit of a different feel. Like some parts of this city look a bit French. This looks a bit more colonial. And it is artsy. It is very bohemian, very hippie and there is going to be all kinds of vendors selling different trinkets. There is going to be food, there is going to be a lot different cool stuff so we’re going to check it out. And it happens, the big market always happens on Sunday. And today is Sunday! It is Sunday.

(Spanish street performer music)

So we are hearing lots of cool music in this part of town. Any favorites so far? Yeah, I mean you’ve got all kinds of different music. I really like that alternative band. They’re just jamming like crazy on the street corner. Yeah, they were having fun. They were having fun. There is also lots of Tango as is to be expected. Yeah. Tango time. A bit of something for everyone.

(Tango music on the street)

(Bargaining in Spanish)

So there is a lot of cool street art in this neighborhood and we just found the iconic mural with Che Guevara. Yes. Pretty easy to find actually. It is still there. It is still there. We weren’t sure if was going to be. Yeah, I saw that one maybe like 6 or 7 years ago when I visited and it is still around. Way before we even met.

So aside from the outdoor market there is a really cool indoor market where you can buy food and antiques. So we’re in here right now. Let’s go have a look.

So this is something I find really strange. At the market they are selling people’s old family photos. And you can even find like government documents. It is a bit odd. I’m not sure how this ended up at a flea market. And I wonder where these families are. How they feel about their possessions being sold. Family moments.

And that is a wrap from San Telmo. We didn’t walk away with any souvenirs. Empty handed over here. But it was still really fun checking out the neighborhood, checking out the street art, listening to some music. People watching. People watching too. My gosh. Some really good people watching in this part of town. So you come for the experience definitely. And if you pick-up a souvenir or something that is a bonus. Yes. So I think we’re going to call it a day. Maybe go back have a siesta and eat some cake. Because cake and coffee is a thing here. Oh yeah.

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VIDEO: Argentine Breakfast in Buenos Aires, Argentina http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/argentine-breakfast-buenos-aires-argentina http://nomadicsamuel.com/video-blog/argentine-breakfast-buenos-aires-argentina#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2016 10:00:27 +0000 http://nomadicsamuel.com/?p=23171 Argentine Breakfast in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Come join us as we take you out for a typical Argentine breakfast in Buenos Aires, Argentina at a favorite little cafe nearby our apartment. Hint: it’s a sweet one!

Travel Video: Argentine Breakfast in Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/-5Q9cKUWgAM

Video Script:

So today’s video is all about breakfast and the plan is to show you an Argentinian breakfast. Or a desayunar.

Now we wanted to go to a really nice cafe that is near the Recoleta Cemetery; however, it is pouring rain outside so we just ran out of our apartment and found the nearest cafe and popped in. So we’ve placed our order, we are hungry and yeah we’re going to be showing you what breakfast looks like in this part of the world.

So Sam our breakfast has arrived. Breakfast has arrived. I am a very happy boy. Well, the cool thing about breakfast in Argentina is that they like to keep it simple and sweet. And that makes it one of my favorite meals here.

So I’m pretty happy with what I ordered. I got Café con leche which is coffee with milk. The milk is super frothy by the way. Check that out. I’m not even a coffee drinker. I normally go for tea but when in Argentina you’ve got to do it right. You’ve got to get some coffee. And then over here I have my medialuna. Which is like a croissant. This one is made with butter and I have facturas which are little pastries. So this one is made with crema pastelera which is kind of like a yellow cream similar to Boston Cream. And this one is stuffed with quince jam. So super excited about that. This is going to be a good breakfast and I’m just going to dig right in. I’m not waiting for you. Ha!

Mmmm.

So, I bit most of the jam out but if you have a look inside. It is like a little croissant roll. A butter roll stuffed with quince jam which is so good. Mmmhmmm.

So Sam can you tell us what you ordered for breakfast. I sure can. So if you take a look down here I’m having something called tostadas which essentially is toast. Yes. It is a massive generous portion. It’s a lot of toast. 6 slices. Yeah, I was thinking maybe like two slices but I’ve got six. And what I’m most excited about here is this is like a whipped butter and it looks amazing. So I’m just going to pour it, not pour it, spread it all over and then take a bit of the jam. I wonder what kind of jam it is. It looks like it may be cherry jam actually. Cherry or a dark raspberry. So getting that ready. Let’s see how good this toast is. Wow.

That is some mighty fine toast. Starting the day with sugar. Oh, yeah.

And beverage of choice this morning? Yeah, and for me the best part about Argentine breakfast is the coffee. The quality of the coffee is superb. And I ordered one with con leche. Cafe con leche which means a generous portion of milk and wow is it ever good. I usually put in one pack of sugar, stir it around and it is like perfection. It is magic. Perfection in a cup.

Have a sip. I could have this any time of day. Not just for breakfast. And breakfast also came with orange juice today. It did. How is that? Is it from concentrate? Or freshly squeezed? You know what, it actually tastes freshly squeezed but the pulp has been removed. So good quality orange juice too. We are going to be on some kind of a sugar high by the time we’re done all of this food and drink.

Well, as you as you can see we had no trouble devouring that. Yeah, we polished that all off. It is time for price point. Yes, so basically it was 60 pesos per person which right now is between 4 to 5 US dollars. And in some cheaper cafes you can get it for like three but this one is like a really nice quality meal. And they’re really generous with the portions and the quality of the food was good so excellent value I’d say. So you’re satisfied? Very much. I may need a siesta after breakfast. A morning siesta.

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