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Capture the Color

What are you capturing when you take a photo?

Sometimes it is a moment, a feeling, an event, something beautiful or to document life but these photos,

They were taken to capture the color.

Travel Supermarket is currently running a fun photo contest titled Capture the ColourI was nominated by my good friend Gina from One Day in a City and since in my usual fashion I have waited until just 3 days before the contest is ending I am nominating all those who haven’t yet shared the amazing colors from around the world. Whether that is in your home, around the corner or across oceans please feel free to share!

Blue: Kauai, Hawaii

Green: Jamaica

 White: Washington DC, USA

Yellow: Austria

Red: Tel Aviv, Israel


 

 

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Don’t just taste Hungary, stuff your face!

As I walk into the 3 story market brimming with vibrant produce, meats and sausages aplenty, rows of souvenir shops and a variety of other goods for sale I sigh in relief as I spot my tour guide Virág, who will make sense of the chaos and provide insight into the history of Hungarian food and drinks.

Considering we began the tour at 10 in the morning I was surprised when our first stop was to get a drink, no, not water instead we really started in style by smashing down a shot of Unicum. Hungary’s very own liquor made from a secret recipe that is over 200 years old with 42 different herbs. It was originally created and sold as a cure all in pharmacies with a taste similar to Jägermeister but with a smoother aftertaste and is still considered for medicinal use.

If you have a sore throat just as a Hungarian what to do and they will recommend Unicum!

If you ever get drunk and hangover in Hungary then I would highly recommend our next tasting for your cure. This is Langos, you can have it topped with savory or sweet ingredients but the traditional serving is with sour cream and cheese. You won’t find it anywhere on the “healthy things to eat” list but it sure would do wonders for anyone suffering from a great night out or just in need of something delicious!

Next stop, MEAT!

As I snap some photos and try to identify the assortment of  cuts on display Virág is busy ordering some samples for us to try. Now, I decided a long time ago that I would try anything onceNow don’t get carried away I am sure you can think of something wild and crazy that I in fact wouldn’t do but as far as foods in another country, I haven’t come across anything I wouldn’t be willing to try at least once.

I really wasn’t expecting to step out of my comfort zone on this tour but I had the opportunity to try not only one but two unfamiliar meaty treats.

Cow tongue and horse, can you tell which two they are?

In order from closest to furthest: 

1: Horse ham- Surprisingly salty, so much so that it wouldn’t matter what animal or cut of meat I didn’t enjoy enough to want it again.

2: Salami with hot paprika- Similar to the pepperoni but much spicier, the paprika in Hungary has a fresher taste and more of a kick.

3: Beef Tongue- Mild tasting and if you didn’t know what it was you probably wouldn’t guess it was tongue.

4: Winter Salami- Good with a stronger flavor, something I could eat on a more regular basis.

5: Grey Cattle- Made from an old beef cattle bred in Hungary, it tasted closest to the pepperoni you would find on American pizza (maybe pizza everywhere but I’m not qualified to make that statement since I haven’t had a pizza with pepperoni on it outside of the US).

From the best paprika in the market to strange vegetables, a display of which mushrooms are safe to consume versus those that would sooner land you in a hospital and the lower level selling seafood and pickled everything this market is sure to entice you!

Did you know? Hungary even provides offices that you can bring in the mushrooms you pick to have them inspected and find out if any of them are poisonous free of charge? How awesome is that!

After stuffing our faces on samples our guide informs us that the next stop is for lunch… what?

Each of us look at the other wondering where the hell we are supposed to fit more food, after a short walk we promptly find the last available table before the lunch rush hits and soon our guide returns with several dishes and we know it is game time. I mustered all my strength and somehow managed to find room to try my very first blood sausage and to be honest I got caught up in all the smells and sauces that I can’t even tell you what exactly was in all of it. I should have taken better notes but my stomach won the battle over my brains and I am remiss (only a little) to tell you that if you want to know just exactly what I ate and how insanely good it is then you are just going to have to board your own plane and get your butt to Hungary!

Now that we are all really stuffed and begin to waddle down the street after Virág it is time for dessert, but not to fret I was prepared! I always have room for dessert and quite honestly if the others didn’t that only meant there was more for me!

When you are visiting Hungary it is absolutely necessary that you try Kürtőskalács which means chimney cakes. It is a pastry wrapped around a wooden cone shaped pin and cooked over a fire or coals with cinnamon and sugar. I don’t understand why this traditional Transylvanian dessert isn’t taking over the world already!

Just in case that wasn’t enough we also stopped at a little cafe for some desserts of the fancier nature.

It has become clear to us that this is not a sprint it is a food marathon and the finish line is in sight just after our wine tasting at Borbíróság, a fun and beautiful wine bar with unique decor. I personally loved all the wino influence including wine cork infused table centerpieces and stair case. Each wine we tasted was from a different region in Hungary and even though I love wine I know very little about it so this tour was the perfect time for me to ask questions. Virág actually studying at the University of Viticulture and Enology with the plan (and destiny) to have her own wine label. If there were ever a girl to tell you all the in and outs of Hungarian wine it is Virág not only is she so knowledgeable but she is passionate about Hungarian wine.

I didn’t just Taste Hungary I full out stuffed my face with all the tastes of Hungary and whole heatedly recommend that you sign up for your very own tour!

 

Which of the many new tastes and flavors would you want to try?

Editor’s Note: Mountains of thanks to Taste Hungary for providing me with a discounted tour however the opinions, as always, are my own. 

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Saturday Snapshot: Budapest’s Largest Indoor Market Makes You Hungary

Yes, that pun was intended!

Just walking into Budapest’s 116 year old market is daunting, most smells beckon you to search out the savory and sweet treats alike but knowing which foreign flavors to try is a task in itself.

I knew I would need assistance to navigate through this jam packed 3 story market of meats, cheese, spices, produce, liquor, fish, souvenirs and so much more!

What better option is there than to Taste Hungary, an intimate guided tour through the best of Budapest’s wines, food and marketplace.

Stay tuned to find out my favorite Hungarian wines, shockingly salty meats and the best paprika to bring home to your family and friends.

Editor’s Note: Mountains of thanks to Taste Hungary for providing me with a discounted tour however the opinions, as always, are my own. 

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City Spotlight: Why Visit Detroit?

To see previous City Spotlights here

I could travel all over the world and back, but there will never be any place like home.  Hailing from the Motor City and the birthplace of Motown, Detroit is where my roots are firmly planted and the city is well on its way back up. In fact, did you know that the first youth hostel in the city opened just last year? More than that, HostelBookers even named Detroit one of the top places to visit in 2012.

Compared to many of its neighboring cities and states, Detroit is cheap, and because of that, people can buy or rent real estate at a fraction of the cost compared to the likes of Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. You’ll also find that Detroit is a breeding ground for small businesses because startup costs are low. Because of that, Detroit has evolved into a creative hub that has sparked all sorts of innovative events and casual community gatherings.

Let your trip include a visit to the Hitsville Motown Museum, Eastern Market (only open on Saturdays), a Tiger’s game at Comerica Park, a tour of the top of the Renaissance Center, Detroit Electronic Music Festival (summer), and The Auto Show (summer).

The View

For the best view of Detroit, go to the roof of the recently renovated Madison Building. Facing NW, you’ll have the best view of Woodward Avenue’s entertainment district, Grand Circus Park just below, Comerica Park and Ford Field to your right, the casinos in the distance, and the Opera House just across the street. It is a panoramic view not to be missed especially in the evening when the streets are all lit up.

When looking around, it’s difficult to miss the urban decay that has overtaken the outskirts of the city. For as much restoration that needs to happen, the abandoned architecture gives Detroit its character, and for that reason, makes it so photogenic.

The Food & Drinks

If you start off in Corktown, grab a burger or salad at Mercury Burger Bar. Their butter-soaked salad croutons are so moist and delicious. If burgers aren’t your thing, try your luck at Slows BBQ or Mudgie’s Deli, and grab drinks at Sugar House afterwards.

When you’re downtown for a concert or a baseball game, send your taste buds to heaven at Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes, grab lunch at Bucharest Grill, and end the night with drinks at Cliff Bells or Centaur. For post-bar munchies, a stop at Detroit’s classic Lafayette Coney Island is imperative.

The People

The people who have lived within the Detroit city limits all their lives can come off as a bit rough around the edges, at first. That shouldn’t deter you from talking to them, because once you do, you’ll find proud, passionate, hard-working souls beneath those hard shells. Detroiters believe in their personal future as well as the city’s, and know very well that what you hear on the news is absolute bologna.

Over the last year, a lot of bright, young minds have been moving downtown which has given the city a breath of fresh air and instated a new way of thinking to keep moving forward. You’ll find a lot of motivated, driven individuals who thrive on intelligent and progressive conversation over dinner and drinks.

If you ever go to a Tiger’s game, be sure to say hello to the “Eat ‘em up, Tigers” guy. Give him a high five, and spare him some leftover change from your pockets. People from all over who come to a game know him well, and his greeting & spirit will get you pumped up for the game.

Papa Smurf is also one of Detroit’s trademark characters. When you’re hanging out near the St. Andrew’s Hall / Greektown area, you may see him around, and he will most likely offer to make you a bracelet. He is a great storyteller as well, if you take the time to talk to him.

The Rockstars

On the other end of the personality spectrum, Michigan, in general is known for producing famous talent such as Mitch Albom (author, newscaster), Kid Rock, Eminem, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tim Allen, Kristen Bell, Tom Selleck and Twilight’s own Taylor Lautner.

Detroit, as a city, is its own best-kept secret. It’s the cool underground spot where young people are hanging out. The bartenders know your name and drink of choice, and your new neighbors always invite you to their barbecues. Detroit is a community that’s ready to welcome you into the family when you visit.

So what are you waiting for?

 

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Perspective after a Month Abroad and the Many More to Come

It has been 31 days since I hugged my family and friends goodbye before walking confidently onto a plane that would take me far away from the only life I have known.

My Family

I will admit from a place in my heart filled with humility that this has been without a doubt far more challenging than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Yet every so often when the winds rustle in the trees or the sun shines at just the perfect angle casting a shadow of beauty that for a moment my worries settle in silence and the world lies still filling me with peace and contentment.

Island Korcula off the Croatian Coast

For years I had been telling people my plans after college graduation were to “sell everything I own and travel the world” but until that distant dream started to become a reality I realized those were just empty words. That is until decisions had to be made, where would I go, how would I make money, when would I sell my home and which belongings did I want to keep, give away and take with me.

I was overtaken by excitement and urgency but so much of the time leading up to my flight on July 15th demanded my patience; it was a constant battle between preparing for the future and teaching myself to be present in each moment before my departure. I was as ready and prepared as I could have ever been and yet somehow I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

 

I anticipated getting homesick, knowing that wonder and amazement would be around every turn, a fountain of tears waiting to surprise me at any given moment and an emotional rollercoaster ready to take me on wild twists, turns, ups and downs. This adventure hasn’t let me down. What a multifaceted and broad spectrum of events this month it has held! There will never be a way to completely express how this past month has influenced me, hell, most of the experiences and lessons won’t present themselves for years to come!

 

I’ve traveled in 7 different countries by planes, trains, buses, ferries, cars, bikes trams and a lot of metros. I’ve laughed so hard I cried, I cried so hard I laughed, read 4 books that have been on my list for years, met dozens of new lifelong friends, received over 67 mosquito bites, ate horse, cow tongue, drank homemade liquor in Croatia and had a shot of Unicum from a recipe over 300 years old, snorkeled between the continental plates that separate America and Eurasia and spent more time trying to enjoy life rather than live life.

Elliot, Jess, me, Euan and Perry

So hang on folks cause you haven’t seen anything yet!