Multiple Obelisks at the Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt

Obelisks can be found throughout the world, many of them originally coming from Egypt. Almost always, you will find them as a single obelisk that stands out on its own. The obelisks at Karnak Temple in Luxor is an example of having multiple obelisks at the same site. There are two remaining obelisks of the four that originally existed at the site. We took many different photographs of the obelisks during our time touring the temple and the pair of obelisks provides some interesting symmetry in the pictures that we took. There were also time when they could be seen framed between different columns and doors, which was probably the intention of the ancient Egyptians when the obelisks were erected.

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Walking Towards the Obelisks

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The Obelisks Behind Us

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Looking Up at the Obelisks

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Obelisks from the Distance

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From Inside the Temple

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One Obelisk is Taller than the Other

 

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Enjoying Food and Beer at the Denver BBQ Festival

We spent the weekend in Denver where we went to the 2nd annual Denver BBQ Festival. With 11 different pit masters, live music, cooking demonstrations, beer and drinks, as well as games for the family, it was definitely a fun time. Entrance is free and you can purchase items that you want or you can purchase a VIP pass that allows you to eat and drink all that you want. We chose to get the VIP pass so that we could try as many different barbeque options as possible. There were pit masters from all over the country including Kansas City, St. Louis, New York, Nashville, Texas, and Colorado.

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Leg of Lamb with Peppers

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Food Being Prepped

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Cooking Demonstration

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Tender Ribs and Baked Beans

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Pulled Pork and a Loaded Potato Salad

If you are a fan of barbecued food, this event is certainly for you. With choices that include leg of lamb, ribs, chicken, brisket, pork belly, whole hog, pork chops, and lamb ribs, there are options for every type of food lover. It wasn’t just about the meat, though, as there were side dishes that include baked beans, potato salad, carrot and raisin salad, bloody Mary salad, and, of course, coleslaw. To be clear, although we tasted just about everything that there was, we certainly did not sit down and eat full portions from each of the food stations. Even with just tasting small samples from each of the pit masters, we still had more than enough food to make us full.

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Different Bands Throughout the Day

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Tender Beef Brisket

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Serving the Large Crowds

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Mini-Taco

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Chicken Wing and Coleslaw

We think that beer pairs really well with barbeque, but there were many options available to drink. From mixed drinks made with Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Tito’s vodka to make margaritas, as well as non-alcoholic drinks, no one was going thirsty. It was a hot day, so an ice-cold beer certainly hit the spot and we chose to have a Colorado Lager from Odell’s Brewery. The festival took place in the parking lot of Mile High Stadium and it was certainly a very popular event.

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Ice-Cold Beer

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Sausage and Brisket

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Getting the Food Out

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Looking Out Over the Festival

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Ribs with a Dry Rub and a Sauce

It is hard to choose a favorite with all of the different dishes that we tried, but there was a beef brisket from Pappy’s Smokehouse that was so tender that it fell apart. The leg of lamb from Sugar Fire Smokehouse was also wonderful. The pork belly from Joe’s KC BBQ was one of the first things that we tasted and also one of our favorites. And finally, the ribs from Peg Leg Porker BBQ were definitely worth eating again and again. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t enjoy everything that we tried, including those from Salt Lick BBQ, GQue BBQ, The Shed, Ubon’s BBQ, Memphis BBQ, and Jean-Paul Bougeois.

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Lamb Ribs and Carrots and Raisins

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People Lining Up

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Chicken and Bloody Mary Salad

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Salmon, Slaw, and Guacamole

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Pork Belly and Pork Rinds

We will definitely put this on our calendar for next year. There isn’t a better way to spend a summer afternoon than eating delicious barbeque, drinking a beer, listening to music, and getting grilling advice from the experts. The Denver BBQ Festival is certainly an event that is fun for the whole family.

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United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado

University campuses can be quite historic and beautiful and the service academies are certainly no exception. Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, the United States Air Force Academy is quite beautiful. We often go to the grounds of the academy to go hiking, but it is also worth taking the time to actually go to the chapel at the academy and to see the field house that serves as the dorms for the cadets. If you get a chance to be in Colorado Springs during the fall, going to a football game at the Air Force Academy is an experience that you will never forget.

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Cadet Chapel

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Statues of Airplanes

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Cadet Squadron

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More Statues on Display

The grounds of the Air Force Academy are a protected area for wildlife, so it is common to see wild animals if you decide to go for a hike. There are several trails at the academy including some difficult trails that go into the mountains, some easier trails that go through the fields, and even part of the Sante Fe Trail. Access to the academy can be restricted at times, so it is important to check ahead and you must show a valid id in order to pass through the security check points. There are two entrances, the north and south entrance, but most people use the north entrance and that is also the entrance that is used to go to a football game.

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Turkeys Crossing the Road

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Hiking at the Academy

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Walking along the Trail

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Surrounded by Pine Trees

The design of the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel makes it one of the most recognizable buildings at the academy. Not surprisingly, many former cadets return to the academy to have their wedding at the Cadet Chapel. The chapel was completed in 1962, just a few years after the first class of cadets graduated in 1959. There is also the parade grounds near the chapel as well as a variety of statues in honor of famous graduates from the academy as well as different planes from over the years. You will also find planes, gliders, and cadets learning to parachute over the academy throughout the year. The academy has its own airport where cadets learn to fly in smaller aircraft.

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Statue with the Cadet Chapel in the Background

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Parade Grounds and Airplanes

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Glider Overhead

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Front of the Chapel

We have had the opportunity to go to several football games throughout the years and each one is truly special. There is something about the pageantry of a football game at the United States Air Force Academy that is hard not to be impressed by. Whether it is the cadet march-on as squadrons line up on the field, the flyovers by different styles of airplanes, or the traditional skydivers that parachute into the stadium, it is an exciting atmosphere that is very unique. During the graduation ceremony at the Air Force Academy, the Thunderbirds put on an amazing performance every year that has people from all around Colorado Springs stopping to watch the jets as they fly overhead.

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Dramatic Entrance

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Cadets Marching on to the Field

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Flyover the Stadium

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Color Guard

When it comes to places to visit when coming to Colorado Springs, the United States Air Force Academy is certainly one not to be missed. Whether stopping at the overlook off of the highway, touring the academy grounds, or just going for a hike, the academy is definitely worth at least a couple of hours of your time. Speed limits are clearly posted on the roads within the academy and they are strictly enforced, so be sure to adhere to all posted signs.

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Landing on the Field

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Academy Airport

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Living Quaters with a View

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Statue Close-Up

 

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The Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest

The Dohany Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is certainly an important site to visit during any trip to Budapest, Hungary. There are many reasons to visit the synagogue including its size, architecture, and history. The synagogue complex is also home to the Hungarian Jewish Museum, Heroes’ Temple, Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, and the Jewish Cemetery. There can be long lines to get into the Dohany Street Synagogue, but it is definitely worth the wait. You will undoubtedly walk away with a mix of emotions as it is haunting, sad, and yet a sense of human nature’s ability to overcome.

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Chandelier in the Main Chamber

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Focal Point of the Synagogue

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Colorful Dome

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Hungarian Jewish Museum

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Jewish Cemetery

Along with Shoes Along the Danube Bank, walking through the Hungarian Jewish Museum is a stark reminder of how horrific the Jewish community was treated during World War II. The Dohany Street Synagogue is located in the Old Jewish Quarter of Budapest and was part of the Jewish Ghetto during the war. It is important for everyone to understand and remember the atrocities that occurred. In addition to the museum, the Jewish Cemetery, which would not normally be located next to the synagogue, is where over 2,000 people were buried toward the end of the war. There is a statue of a weeping willow in the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park in the rear courtyard that has the names and tattoo numbers of those whose lives were lost there.

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Weeping Willow Memorial

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Balcony and Columns

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One of the Displays in the Museum

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Part of the Jewish Cemetery

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Moorish and Gothic Architecture

The inside of the Dohany Street Synagogue is truly quite beautiful. Built in the 1850’s in a Moorish design, the synagogue holds up to 3,000 worshipers making it the second largest synagogue in the world and the largest in Europe. The seats on the ground floor are for men and the upper gallery has seats for women. There is also an ornately decorated dome within the synagogue as well as large chandeliers above the center aisle. There are also gothic influences as well, including the stained glass windows that line the main chamber.

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Ornate Details

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Enormous Interior

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Map of the Jewish Ghetto

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Memorial in the Courtyard

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Wall Behind the Synagogue

We spent about two hours touring the Great Synagogue and it is definitely worth at least that amount of time. There are also many wonderful restaurants and shops located in the Old Jewish Quarter, so you should also spend several hours wondering through the narrow side streets. The Dohany Street Synagogue is an important landmark in Budapest and Hungary in general. We visited on a rainy day, which made the experience even more impactful.

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Holocaust Memorial Plaque

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Cemetery Courtyard

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Stained Glass Windows

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Golden Candelabras

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Beautiful Exterior

 

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Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary

Located in the heart of the Buda Castle District in Budapest is the historic Matthias Church. The current church was built in the 1400’s in the Gothic architectural style, but it was extensively remodeled in the 19th century. The original church was built around 1015, but nothing remains of the original Romanesque architectural style. The Matthias Church sits in front of the Fisherman’s Bastian, which is the wall with towers that surrounds the Danube River side of Castle Hill. The church is clearly visible from the Pest side of the river, especially with its colorful roof.

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Matthias Church

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As Seen from the Pest Side of the Danube River

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The Holy Trinity Statue

The church is named after King Matthias, who ruled Hungary in the 19th century. The church has been the site of several coronations as well as royal weddings, including both of King Matthias’ weddings. Unfortunately, there was actually a wedding at the church when we toured the Buda Castle District, so we weren’t able to go inside. The church itself has had as tumultuous of a history as Hungary itself. The church has had several names before becoming the Matthias Church, including The Church of Mary and The Church of Our Lady. After Hungary was conquered by the Turks, most of the church’s treasures were transferred to Bratislava and the Turks converted it to a mosque. It was later then restored and many of the Gothic features restored.

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Back of the Church

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Gothic Style Entrance

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Details of the Holy Trinity Statue

During World War II, the church was badly damaged by both the Germans and the Soviet Union, so work was done in the 1950’s and 1970’s to again restore it to it original grandeur. In addition to the church, there is also the Holy Trinity Statue that is near the main entrance of the church with wonderful details. Regardless of its history, Matthias Church is certainly one of the most important features in the Buda Castle District. The diamond patterned roof, gargoyles, and the raven with a ring in its mouth make it very interesting to see. Apparently the raven with the ring symbolizes a story of when King Matthias took off his ring and a raven grabbed it and flew off with it. King Matthias then chased down the raven and slew it in order to get his ring back.

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Raven on the Roof of the Church

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One of the Church Towers

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View of the Church Tower

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Matthias Church and the Holy Trinity Statue

 

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Hungarian Goulash Stew

We had goulash a couple of different ways when we were in Budapest and neither of them were anywhere close to what we’d eaten before. In Hungary, goulash is actually a soup with beef, potatoes, and carrots in rich broth. We also found restaurants that offered a heartier version of the dish that is served as a stew, which is what westerners envision when they hear the word goulash. The key to the dish is the paprika, which comes in mild, medium, and hot varieties. For our version of goulash stew, we chose to use hot paprika, which we brought home with us from Budapest. Another thing that we found common in Hungary was to have both potatoes as well as rice, noodles, or dumplings in addition, which helps to soak up all of the flavor of the sauce. We think that the dish turned out to be quite delicious and will certainly make it many times in the future.

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Simmering the Goulash

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 lbs Beef Bottom Round Roast – trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
  •  3 tbsp All Purpose Flour
  •  3 to 4 tbsp Olive Oil
  •  2 Yellow Onions – roughly chopped
  •  2 Peppers (1/2 Red, 1 Green, 1/2 Yellow) – roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped
  •  2 Garlic Cloves – minced
  •  2 tbsp Hot Paprika (3 tbsp if using mild)
  •  2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  •  1 can (15 oz) Whole Tomatoes – hand crushed
  •  5 cups Beef Stock
  •  10 Small Golden Potatoes – cut in half
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
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Onions, Peppers, and Garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven (or stew pot) on the stove to medium-high heat.  Add the meat to the oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Sautee the meat until it is browned on all sides. While the meat is cooking, sprinkle it with the flour and continue to stir to even out the flour and remove any lumps. If necessary, add more oil to keep the meat from sticking. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, and paprika and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, tomatoes, and beef stock to the pot and stir. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate anything that might have gotten stuck when the meat sautéed. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Serve with rice.

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Beef Dusted with Flour

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Roasted Peppers

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Peppers, Onions, and Beef

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Our Version of Hungarian Goulash

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The Original Goulash Stew in Budapest

 

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Our Hiking Season Has Officially Begun

Although some people hike year-round, regardless of the season, we prefer to wait until most of the snow has melted before going hiking in the mountains. It has been a cool and rainy spring in Colorado and the mountains have continued to get snow even as summer starts around most of the country. We decided to hike a trail that we’ve done before, but this time we chose to go a different direction, which completely changed the hike. It was a relatively easy hike and there was almost no one else on the trail, making it very relaxing and peaceful.

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Relaxing Trail

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Colorful Wildflowers

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Surrounded by Pine Trees

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Wonderful Views from the Trail

We decided to hike the Falcon Trail on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy here in Colorado Springs. We originally hiked it back in August of 2017, so it was nice seeing it during a different time of year. Thanks to all of the moisture that we’ve had, the wildflowers are in full bloom making the trail even more beautiful. The entire trail is a 12 1/2 mile loop, but we only went 5 miles on this hike as we get back into hiking condition.

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Wildflowers Along the Trail

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Peaks in the Distance

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Rocky Portion of the Trail

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Looking Eastward

Now that the weather is getting better, we expect to go hiking quite regularly between any trips that we have planned. We find that hiking on the weekends is a great way to relax as well as truly enjoy the beautiful scenery that Colorado has to offer. Although we didn’t see any wildlife on the trail itself, we did come across some wild turkeys crossing the road as we approached the parking area at the head of the trail. The Air Force Academy is also a protected area for wildlife, so it is quite common to find elk, deer, and other wild animals on the grounds of academy. It was certainly a wonderful way to kick off our hiking season and we look forward to getting even farther up into the mountains on our next hike.

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Tiny Yellow Wildflowers

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Wild Turkeys

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Turkeys Crossing the Road

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Start of the Trail

 

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How Does Traveling Make You Feel?

You will likely go through a wide range of emotions when you travel, especially when going to someplace that you’ve never been to before. It starts as you begin to plan your trip, there can be a mix of excitement and nervousness. Depending upon the distance you are traveling, during the actual travel there can be frustration over delays, lack of sleep, rude and inconsiderate other travelers, and uncomfortable conditions. Perhaps there will be jet lag and some disorientation upon your arrival, especially in places that are culturally different than your own. At this point, it is likely that the excitement will return as you start to discover the place that you’ve chosen to visit. With all of that said, as we look back at photographs of ourselves during our travels, we can see the genuine happiness in our smiles. If we had to sum up how travel makes us feel, it would definitely be happy and perhaps a sense of being complete. Despite a little depression when a trip comes to an end, it soon turns back to the enjoyment of planning something new. What emotions do you experience as you travel?

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Enjoying the Temples in Egypt

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Making Friends in Bolivia

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Standing on the Rim of a Volcano in Ecuador

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Standing in Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) in Transylvania

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Sitting at a Restaurant in the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

 

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Bratislava Castle in Slovakia

Sitting on the hill above the city of Bratislava is the historic Bratislava Castle, the Bratislavský hrad in Slovak. The original castle dates back to the 13th century, but it was obviously modified many times over the centuries. By the early 1800’s, the castle was in a state of deterioration and was being used by the military for barracks. It was also damaged more during the world wars, but in 1953 the decision was made to restore the castle to its former glory and it is now a popular tourist site within the capital city of Bratislava.

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Two of the Four Towers

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Castle Garden

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View from the Castle

We visited the Bratislava Castle in May, so the gardens were just beginning to bloom, but we can certainly can imagine what they must look like in the summer months. The castle itself is a rectangular building with four towers, one on each corner. Although there is apparently only a single window left from the original building, the castle is still quite beautiful. We spent about an hour walking the grounds and enjoying the wonderful views of the city below. There is also a statue of King Svatopluk that was added to the courtyard in 2010, which apparently caused some controversy.

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Bratislava Castle as Viewed from the War Memorial

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Statue in the Courtyard

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One of the Gates

The history of the region, with its importance to Hungary and then recent gain of independence, the Bratislava Castle is a source of pride to the people of Slovakia. It is an interesting theme that we found during our tour of Bratislava of how the castle and the city were a seat of power for Hungary for centuries, which obviously is a frustration for Slovakians, but at the same time the country has recognized the importance of this period as part of their own history.  Add to that the other occupations, including that of the Soviet Union, and the country has overcome a variety of historical obstacles. Needless to say, any visit to Bratislava should include going to the castle that overlooks the city.

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Another View of the Garden

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Entrance to the Castle

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Part of the Wall that Surrounds the Castle

 

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Salmon with a Spicy Pepper Sauce

During our trips to Mexico, we have always enjoyed having seafood cooked with local preparations. Not all food in Mexico is spicy and this recipe isn’t overly spicy, but it does have a little bit of heat. Although you can certainly use a fish other than salmon, we found that salmon was able to hold up to the bold taste of the creamy pepper sauce. We have often made a hollandaise sauce to go with salmon, but using the peppers provides a different alternative. With the summer months coming, the salmon could also be grilled instead of pan-seared, but pan-searing it does create a nice and crispy skin. We found this dish to be extremely delicious and relatively simple to make. It is also the type of dish that can be made for a more formal occasion or a simple weeknight dinner.

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Blistered Anaheim Peppers

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 Salmon Filets – about 5 ounces each
  •  3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  •  2 Fresh Anaheim Peppers
  •  2 tbsp Corn Taco Shells – ground (or 2 tbsp of Masa Harina, which is a corn flour)
  •  1 1/2 cups Milk
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
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Seared Skin on the Salmon

INSTRUCTIONS

Either by heating the peppers on the open flame of a gas stove or on a grill, cook the peppers until the skins are blistered and black. While still hot, put the peppers into a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap so that they steam. Once cool, you can use a knife or a paper towel to remove the charred skin of the peppers. Roasting the peppers gives them a nice, smoky taste. Roughly chop the peppers and set them aside.

Season the salmon filets with a half a teaspoon of the garlic powder as well as a generous amount of salt and pepper. Heat a large sauce pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is fully heated, place the salmon skin-side down into the pan and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes and the skin is nice and crispy. Flip the fish and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. If you are going to put the fish into an oven to stay warm while the sauce cooks, simply cook the fish a minute or two less before putting them into the oven. Otherwise, simply cover the fish and set aside and let the fish rest while the sauce cooks.

Add the peppers, remaining garlic powder, ground taco shells or flour, milk, and some salt and pepper to a blender (works better than a food processor for this sauce) and mix until smooth. Pour the pepper mixture into the same pan that the fish was cooked in while the temperature is still at medium-high. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until the sauce thickens. Be sure to taste the sauce and add additional salt or pepper if necessary. Plate the fish and serve with the sauce over top.

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Creamy Pepper Sauce

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Blister the Peppers on the Stove

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Ingredients

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Blend Until Smooth

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Salmon with a Spicy Pepper Sauce

 

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