Help to Jog the Memory

Traveling to places can be overwhelming at times as there is so much to see and learn about a location. Like most people, we will read information about a destination and will get pamphlets, maps, and other materials as we visit specific sites. That doesn’t mean that when we get back, we will remember everything we read or learned about a place, especially for some of the lesser known buildings or even specific pieces of art. Therefore, we will often take a photo of a sign or plaque to help remind us about a place or item after we get home. We often find these photos to be very helpful as we look back at pictures of our trip and need a little help in remembering some of the specifics. Do you take photographs of signs and plaques during your trips?

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Plaque in Cairo

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From Quito, Ecuador

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Metal Sign in Romania

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Sign for Fossil Tree in India

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Map and Sign in Koblenz, Germany

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Statue Information in Rome

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Plaque for Fallen Heros in Dublin

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Nuremberg, Germany

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Sign in Sante Fe

 

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Eguisheim, France

There are many wonderful towns on the wine road in Alsace, France. One of the first towns that we visited during our day tour from Strasbourg was Eguisheim. It is a medieval town that was built in rings of buildings that circle the town square. With its historic buildings, tiny streets, and unique shops, it is a popular destination for tourists who visit Alsace and the wine road. One of the highlights of Eguisheim is the Chapelle Saint-Leon IX, which is a beautiful chapel located near the fountain in the town square.

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Narrow Streets of Eguisheim

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Chapelle Saint-Leon IX

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Beautiful Architecture

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Historic Quaintness

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Wondering Through the Town

We visited Eguisheim during the winter and there were still plenty of crowds, but we would expect the town to be even more crowded during the summer months when the entire area is a popular destination. Walking the narrow streets is truly like stepping back in time and has an almost magical quality. One of things that we enjoyed were the many whimsical shops that can be found as you take the tour around the main loop that surrounds the town and then leads you to the town center. It is definitely a romantic location.

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Crowded with Tourists and Locals

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Colorful Ceiling Above the Altar

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Whimsical Shops

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Front of the Chapel

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Scenes Depicting Pope Saint-Leon IX’s Life

The Chapelle Saint-Leon IX was built in the neo-Roman style in 1894 and dedicated to Pope Saint-Leon IX. The chapel has beautiful stained glass windows that date back to 1895 as well as colorfully painted walls and ceilings depicting seven scenes from the life of Saint-Leon. It is certainly worth taking time to see the chapel when visiting Eguisheim. Located near the main fountain in the town square, there are also several restaurants near the chapel that serve a variety of local food.

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Witch Above a Store Door

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Inside of the Capel

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Stained Glass

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Medieval Charm

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Colorful Buildings

Eguisheim is definitely a beautiful town in the heart of Alsace. We spent a couple of hours in the town and enjoyed our time their immensely. The town has received multiple accreditations for its beauty and history, making it one of the most popular stops on the wine road of Alsace.

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Bell Tower with Bird’s Nest

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Historical Streets

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Town Square and Chapel

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Statue of Saint-Leon IX Inside the Chapel

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Shops, Restaurants, and a Market

 

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Spicy Sausage Sandwiches

We enjoyed a lot of different sausages during our time in Germany, including currywurst. Another thing that we enjoyed was going to our local butcher and seeing what seasonable meats were available. We are fortunate that have a butcher in our home town that does the same, so we went there a couple of weeks ago and we were able to get some Linguica sausage. It is a spicy cured sausage from Portugal and we cooked it in a spicy curry and chili sauce. We made more sauce than we needed for the sausages and plan to use it on some other things as well. It was simple, delicious, and definitely registered on the spicy scale. The sauce would be great with hot dogs, bratwurst, or beef links as well. Although not exactly the same as currywurst, it certainly satisfied that craving.

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Sausage in a Spicy Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 to 4 Sausage Links – Linguica or other style
  •  12 oz Beer – something that you would enjoy drinking
  •  1 cup Chili Sauce
  •  1/4 cup Malt Vinegar
  •  2 tbsp Light Brown Sugar
  •  2 tsp Curry Powder
  •  2 tsp Hot Sauce
  •  1 1/2 Onion – thickly sliced
  •  3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
  •  Hoagie Rolls
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Linguica Sausage

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the chili sauce, salt and pepper, brown sugar, curry powder, hot sauce, malt vinegar, and beer in a large sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat until it starts to simmer.  Continue cooking for another 5 to 7 minutes to reduce the sauce. While the sauce is thickening, brown the sausage in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the sausage and add another tablespoon of olive oil and the onion to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook the onion until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the sausages and onion to the sauce and simmer together just for a couple of minutes just to let the sauce coat the sausage and onion. Butterfly the sausage so that it will lay flat, place on the rolls, and spoon onions and sauce over top.

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Combine the Ingredients

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Sausage and Onion

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Cooked Onion

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Spicy Sausage Sandwiches for Two

 

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Documenting History

Yesterday’s tragic events in Paris serve as a reminder as to how fragile the places that we visit can be. Whether due to natural disasters or man-made events, many of the locations that we treasure can be damaged at some point in the future. The photographs that we, as travelers, capture can do more than just serve as a reminder of the time that we have spent in a place. Ultimately, some of these can serve to document the beauty of a place that perhaps may be lost in the future. Obviously, for extremely popular locations, there can be many photographs that exist to memorialize a location from many different perspectives. With that said, there are some places that are less frequented by travelers and tourists and the images that we capture and the experiences that we share serve not only to educate others about the location, but document them for future generations as well.

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Great Pyramid of Giza

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Approaching the Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde

Although it certainly isn’t are intention to take photographs for historical purposes when we travel, we have definitely seen a variety of places and been able to take photographs that we will treasure forever and that we share via our site. We have seen places like Tiwanaku riddled with bullet holes because the army used the statues for target practice. Walking along the Great Pyramids of Giza, you will find graffiti on the stones that have stood there for thousands of years. Acts of vandalism occur with some frequency around the world. Some of these are easily remedied and others take an effort that is either costly or time consuming.

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Tower Bridge in London

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Artifacts Found in Athens When Building a Subway Station

Hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and other natural disasters have also changed places, both the buildings as well as the landscape, throughout the world. Having photographs before, during, and after such events allow us to truly understand the forces of nature and how the effect the world. Also, have you ever gone into a restaurant with photographs of a city from a hundred years ago up to the current day? We find those images fascinating and to be a visual timeline of a place. Whether intentional or not, all of us who travel and photograph the places that we visit are creating a visual documentation of those locations that can be shared for years to come.

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Beloved Memories of Notre-Dame de Paris in 2007

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Temple Statue in Tiwanaku, Bolivia

 

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Geysir on the Golden Circle in Iceland

One of the highlights of the Golden Circle, which is a loop that takes you to several key tourist sights near Reykjavik in Iceland, is Gysir. It is a geyser that erupts every few minutes, often very dramatically, as well as a hot springs area with mud pits. Crowds gather around to watch Geysir as it bubbles and surges until it finally sprays hot water and steam hundreds of feet into the air. The area has been active for over a thousand years and there are many smaller thermal pots in addition to the impressive Gysir.

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It is More Dramatic Standing Away from Geysir

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Steam and Warm Ground Due to Thermal Activity Below the Ground

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You Can See the Power as Geysir Begins to Erupt

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Little Geysir

Upon arriving to the parking area, you will join large crowds that gather around the geyser to wait and watch for it to erupt. Visiting Geysir during the winter months will really give you a sense of how much the thermal activity effects the area as you go from a completely frozen landscape to one with vegetation and steam coming from the ground all around you. We are sure that it is equally dramatic at other times of year, but the contrast between the ice and snow to the steaming mud pits and grassy areas was quite fascinating.

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Dramatic Eruption

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Boiling Water

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Crowds Gathering

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Building Up to a Larger Eruption

As you stand around Geysir waiting for its next eruption, the bubbling and boiling of the water in the mouth of the geyser is almost mesmerizing to watch. Waves of water roll out towards the edges as the water literally seems to boil. We watched several smaller eruptions that only went several feet into the air, although you could still sense the power of the geyser, until finally the main attraction occurred and Geysir spewed water and steam hundreds of feet into the air. We have seen other geysers, including Old Faithful in Yellowstone, but seeing the power of Geysir was certainly an incredible sight.

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Little Geysir Eruption – Not as Dramatic as the Big Geysir

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Getting Closer to the Big Eruption

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Another Mini-Eruption

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Contrasting Landscapes

 

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Incallajta – Bread Basket of the Inca

One of the tours that took while we were in Cochabamba, Bolivia, was to the ruins at Incallajta. They are some of the most well-preserved ruins in Bolivia and it really gives you a sense of how great the Incan civilization was.  Sadly, not a lot is known for sure about the site and it seems that it is not often visited by tourists.  The main temple building is massive and is probably an indication as to how important the site was to the Incan empire.  In addition to being a ceremonial site, it was also the easternmost defensive fortification for the Inca, with a large wall to protect them from the rival tribes in the Amazon.

View of the Ruins from Above

View of the Ruins from Above

Building in Ruins

Building in Ruins

Our Guide, Remy

Our Guide, Remy

Us in the Temple

Us in the Temple

The area all around Incallajta is extremely fertile land, which is probably why it was so important to the Inca people.  Our guide, Remy, explained to us that much of the food for the empire was grown in this region, including the potatoes, strawberries, and quinoa.  We saw many farms all along the hills surrounding the ruins, with the farmers working the land on the steep hillsides in the same way that their ancestors had.  Food from the area was probably taken as far away as Machu Picchu and Tiwanaku.  We arrived at the entrance to the site where a Quechua woman watched us curiously from the office where we paid to tour the ruins.  From there we hiked up a trail through the trees until the first of the ruins became visible.

Farmland

Farmland

Quechua Woman

Quechua Woman

Walking to the Ruins

Walking to the Ruins

First Glimpse of the Ruins

First Glimpse of the Ruins

The entire site is almost overwhelming, there is so much to see and learn about the Inca people and the importance of Incallajta.  We walked along the stone walls, built with the same precision found in Tiwanaku, as Remy told us about the holes that were used by the soldiers to throw rocks at any approaching army.  Just as was the case with the castles of Europe, they built the holes at an angle so that spears and arrows couldn’t come through, protecting their warriors.  We hiked up to the area above the temples to see the soldiers barracks, very similar to a modern army of today.  As we hiked the steep hills, we had an appreciation to how good of shape these soldiers must have been in to walk the wall daily in defense of the empire.

The Stone Wall

The Stone Wall

Hole to Throw Stones

Hole to Throw Stones

Hiking the Ancient Trails

Hiking the Ancient Trails

Learning About the Area

Learning About the Area

The most impressive site at the ruins is the main temple, called kallanka.  Only the wooden roof and pillars a missing, making it the most interesting ruin that we saw while we were in Bolivia.  The large stone wall with the window-like ceremonial nooks where they would have likely had candles burning was absolutely amazing.  The temple is in such good condition that there are places where you can still see red plaster on top of the stone walls.  Outside of this communal temple was a large stone that has been worn smooth from all of the sacrifices that have taken place there in the past and apparently are still taking place today.

Main Wall of Kallanka

Main Wall of Kallanka

Plaster on the Wall

Plaster on the Wall

Inner Wall of the Temple

Inner Wall of the Temple

Sacrificial Stone

Sacrificial Stone

We climbed up to the top of an 3,300 meter (11,000 foot) hill that towers over the ruins to see the spectacular views of how vast the ruin site is.  It was a pretty tough hike and we were pretty winded by the time we reached the summit, but it was well worth the effort.  From the hills above, the massive size of kallanka was even more apparent than it was from standing within its walls.  Clearly, with such an important structure, this was a key city in the Inca empire.  Unfortunately, we may never know the true nature of things that occurred in Incallajta as there is no written records from the Inca, so the only things that we know for sure were written down by the Spanish who conquered them.

Looking Up to the Top

Looking Up to the Top

Building at the Top

Building at the Top

Views from the Summit

Views from the Summit

The Scale of the Temple

The Scale of the Temple

We continued past several homes that are still standing, pausing to think about the inhabitants that must have lived within those walls.  Most likely they were ancient priests as they would have been the only ones to have such extravagant buildings for the time period.  From there we climbed down to the bottom of a waterfall and ate our lunch, grateful for the break from all of the hiking.  On our way out of the ruins, we climbed to the top of what is assumed to be an astronomical observatory of sorts.  From there, they would have marked the seasons and tracked the celestial movements across the sky.

Resting at the Waterfall

Resting at the Waterfall

View from the Observatory

View from the Observatory

Home of a Priest

Home of a Priest

Another View of the Wall

Another View of the Wall

It was a wonderful day walking among the magnificent ruins.  As was most often the case, it was just the three of us wondering through these spectacular buildings.  There doesn’t appear to be any current interest from universities to come and study the site, which seems completely baffling to us considering how truly interesting the ruins seemed to be to us.  If you’re in the Cochabamba area, we would definitely recommend taking the time to visit Incallajta and walk the footsteps of the ancient Inca warriors, priests, and farmers.

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Ski Resorts are Not Just for Ski Season

One of the great things about living in Colorado is that you can get into the mountains in every season of the year. Obviously, the winter is all about skiing and snow boarding, but the other seasons are just as wonderful for hiking, biking, wildlife watching, and just enjoying the beauty of nature. There are many places to stay during those times of year, but the same resorts that are home to ski resorts also make a great destination year round. Ski lifts will take you and your bikes up to the top of the mountain for a thrilling ride down and ski runs are converted to hiking trails. There are also zip lines and other outdoor activities like putt-putt golf, tennis, horseback riding, and golf. There are even some resorts where you can ride down an alpine slide in cars that fly down the luge track. Depending on when you go into the mountains, you will also find a variety of festivals including those with music and film. We have been to several of them, but here a few of our favorite locations.

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Aspen City Hall

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Downtown Aspen

  1. Aspen – There is something special about this elegant city in the Colorado high country. The town has maintained a small town feel and walking the streets will be like going back in time to when skiing first became a popular sport. There is a reason that the Food and Wine festival is held in Aspen as there are an abundance of excellent restaurants for a town of its size.
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    Looking Down at the Village in Late Spring

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    Beaver Creek Colorado

  2. Beaver Creek – Truly one of our favorite destinations no matter what time of year, there is so much to do in Beaver Creek. There are rodeos on the weekends in the small town of Frisco, which is located at the base of the mountain, just outside of the resort. The resort has activities for all ages and physical capabilities and has some excellent hiking and biking trails.
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    View of Downtown Steamboat Springs

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    Fun for the Children

  3. Steamboat Springs – With a main street that has many different gift shops and restaurants, there is plenty to do during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. It is one of the easier destinations to get to from Denver, which makes it a popular location for locals to visit on weekends. The town hosts different events throughout the summer, so it is wise to check out their activities calendar to see what is happening during the time that you are planning to go there.
    Breckenridge Alpine Slide

    Alpine Slide

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    Steep Terrain Near Breckenridge

  4. Breckenridge – Although all of the resorts are family friendly, Breckenridge offers a wide variety of activities will that entertain children of all ages. For those that don’t just want to spend time hiking in the Rocky Mountains, you could pretty much spend all of your time at the resort if you so desired. Obviously, we’d recommend that you get out into nature either walking on a trail or riding horses to feel like an old-time cowboy or cowgirl.
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    Hiking in Autumn

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    Hiking in the High Country

  5. Telluride – Located in southwestern Colorado, Telluride is farther away than most of the other resorts, but well worth the effort to visit. It hosts one of the most famous jazz and bluegrass festivals in the state. We haven’t been to Telluride for a few years now, so it is high on our list to visit this coming summer.

There are plenty of other towns and villages where you can stay when heading to the mountains of Colorado, but staying at one of the ski resorts offer some extra activities that you might not otherwise find. With plenty of stores, restaurants, and lodges of various size, you can truly customize your experience.

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Watch Your Step

It is hard to avoid steep stairs when traveling and there are times when it is the only way to get to places with amazing views. Especially in historic places that have existed long before modern technologies like elevators, there simply is no choice but to scale the steps as they would have centuries ago. It can be strenuous at times, but the reward at the end is generally worth the effort. Because climbing them can be difficult, we often take photographs of the stairs to remind ourselves later about what we had to do to see the place that we were visiting. Some of them turn out to be interesting photos in and of themselves without having to have had the memory associated with them.

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Stairs Inside of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

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Hatshepsut’s Temple in Luxor

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Frozen Air on Stairs in Romania

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Stairs to the Castle in Heidelberg, Germany

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Looking Down at the Stairs of the Tower in Lucca

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Brisk Climb to the Entrance of a Pyramid in Egypt

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Climbing the Stairs in Koblenz, Germany

 

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How Do You Like to Tour a Location?

There are usually options on how you can tour a location such as self-guided walking tours, group tours, or hiring a private guide. Even if you just read a guide book and walk the streets on your own, you are actually touring a location, it is just very casual. We have tried a variety of styles of touring and have probably done a combination of several styles on every trip. We don’t like being on a schedule, so we lean towards self-guiding ourselves through an area, but there are times when it requires a guide of some sort to really understand the history of a place.

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Touring Florence on Our Own

  1. Self-Guided Tours – Whether you get a map and highlight the path that you want to follow or just pick a starting point and wander, self-guided touring is a very relaxing way to see a place. You can see what you want to see, decide how long you want to spend at a certain site, and stop for a bite to eat at a place that fits your style and budget. One of the downsides is that it is up to you to make sure that you have read all of the information to truly understand the history and interesting facts about a location. Also, there are often times when informational signs are only in the local language and if you are not fluent, you might miss out on some interesting facts.

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    Group Tour in Amsterdam

  2. Group Tours – These can take on a variety of types of tours from hop-on, hop-off buses, river boat cruises, or group walking tours. These tours can be interesting depending upon the personality of the guide. It is often look this way, get a couple of sentences about it, and then you are off to the next site. If you are with a group of people who are truly interested in the place and have read a certain amount of information in advance, you can often learn interesting things based on the questions that are asked in addition to whatever information was on the guide’s script. The schedule is not your own, though, and you can sometimes end up spending more time in places that don’t interest you as much as perhaps it does others. Also, on walking tours, if you have people who decide to wander off to take pictures, you can find yourself standing around waiting for the group to regather.

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    Private Tour in Bolivia

  3. Private Tours – Although you definitely pay a little bit more for private attention, there a many benefits to having a private tour guide. We have found them to be highly knowledgeable about the locations that you want to see and you have their complete attention to ask them questions that are of interest to you. Since the tour is private, the guides are usually willing to cater to your tastes, physical capabilities, and even potentially add things to the tour that might not have been in the original schedule. Obviously, the experience is completely dependent on the personality of the guide. If you are going to spend several hours with only yourselves and the guide, they better have a good personality or it will be the longest few ours of your trip.

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    Learning from an Egyptologist in Luxor

There is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to touring a location and we have found that it often takes a mix to see a place from all of the different angles. If you are going to do a guided tour, be sure to negotiate the price in advance, especially if you are hiring a guide right at a specific site. You should also consider a tip and it should be reflective of the information that you received and the quality of the tour and the guide.

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Pork Chops with Cherry Compote

One of the things that we found throughout Europe were meals with a fruit sauce that accompanied the meat. Often times it was something a little gamey like duck or lamb, but it is a combination that works well with chicken and pork also. Cooking the fruit down to an almost jam-like consistency provides a nice fruity counterbalance to the taste of the meat. We cooked pork chops and basted them with butter and oil as they seared in order to keep them moist and tender. This particular recipe serves two people, but it is easily adjusted to serve more. It would be great with skin-on chicken thighs as well.

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Sautéed Pork Chops

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Pork Chops – thick cut
  • 3 cups Cherries – pitted (we used frozen cherries)
  •  3 tbsp Granulated Sugar
  •  1/2 tsp White Wine Vinegar
  •  2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  •  1 tsp Lemon Zest
  •  1 tsp Dried Thyme
  •  1 tsp Garlic Powder
  •  2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  •  2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  Salt and Pepper to Taste
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Cherry Mixture

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small sauce pan, combine the cherries, sugar, vinegar, 1 tablespoon rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, gently stirring, until the mixture is thick, but keeping the cherries mostly intact, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and put the compote into a bowl and let stand to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours or over night. Season both sides of the pork chops with the remaining rosemary, thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and begins to simmer. Carefully place the pork chops into the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pork chops and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, basting them with the butter and oil frequently to keep them moist and tender. Place the pork chops onto serving plates and spoon half of the cherry mixture over each.

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Cherry Compote

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Seasoned Pork Chops

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Moist Pork Chop

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Pork Chop with Cherry Compote

 

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