Easy and Delicious Shrimp Frittata

One of the things that you can find throughout your travels is some variety of a frittata. They are light, easy, and can be adapted for the cuisine of almost any country. We really enjoy fresh seafood when we travel, so we decided to do a shrimp frittata that was not only easy, but extremely delicious. The use of lemon and fresh parsley also helps to brighten up the dish and make it even more luscious. Frittatas, like a good quiche, can be a meal on its own, but we decided to pair it with some green beans and red peppers. This recipe serves two, but can easily be adjusted to serve a larger group. It also would work well with other shellfish such as lobster or crab instead of the shrimp or even a combination of all three.

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Frittata Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley – chopped
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese – grated
  • Zest of 1 Medium Lemon
  • 1 tsp of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 6 oz Shrimp – peeled, deveined, and fully cooked
  • 1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes – more or less depending on your taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
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Frittata Mixture

INSTRUCTIONS

Steam the shrimp until pink and fully cooked.  Let them cool, peel and devein them, and then roughly chop the shrimp. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese, shrimp, and the lemon zest and juice. Stir to mix all of the ingredients together. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a small, oven-proof, pan until it just begins to bubble (don’t let it start to brown). Add the egg mixture and lightly stir for about a minute and then place the pan in the oven. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the egg mixture sets up and begins to lightly brown. Remove from the oven and let it stand for just a minute or two before cutting into portions to serve.

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Plated Portions

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Melt the Butter and Oil

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Just Before Putting in the Oven

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Light and Fluffy

 

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Mysterious Tiwanaku in Bolivia

Walking through the ruins of Tiwanaku brings both a sense of fascination and yearning for more. This once great capital fills you with a sense of mystery, both because of the seemingly impossible building methods used by the inhabitants over two-thousand years ago as well as the lack of knowledge that we’ll ever have because of the condition of the ruins.  Unfortunately, many of the stones that originally made up Tiwanaku are now used in the walls of the homes in the surrounding villages.  It has also suffered from a lack of preservation by the Bolivian government, which doesn’t seem to have the same sense of history, despite the fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Walls of Tiwanaku

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Temple Statue

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Entrance to the Sun Temple with the Statue in the Center

As with pretty much everything that we visited while in Bolivia, when we walked through the ruins of Tiwanaku, we were virtually by ourselves.  Other than the small market outside of the site, hoping to sell trinkets to whatever tourists made their way to visit this important piece of history, we walked the trails along the walls of the ancient city alone.  Our guide, Ricky, told us of the history of Tiwanaku, which dates back to about 200 B.C. or possibly even earlier.  Most of the remaining ruins are those of the three temples that celebrated the three worlds revered by the inhabitants of Tiwanaku, Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.  It isn’t the Heaven and Hell of the Judeo-Christian beliefs, but simply the belief that there were three different worlds that their gods inhabited.  Our understanding is that the pre-Incan people that inhabited Tiwanaku believed that all life on earth came from the depths of Lake Titicaca, which was much larger back when Tiwanaku was a bustling metropolis and its shores probably extended to the site of the ruins.

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Gate of the Sun

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Temple Stairs

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One of the Statues

One of the greatest questions about the building was the skill in which the stones of the walls were carved to fit perfectly, without any gaps and without any kind of mortar.  Scientists have tried to recreate building the walls without the use of modern equipment and have not been able to replicate the work done by those ancient people so long ago.  And, as with other ancient sites such as the pyramids of Egypt, large stones were quarried miles away and somehow carried to build these temples, a feat that is seemingly impossible.  That has led some people to speculate that perhaps the ancient people of Tiwanaku had help from some sort of extra-terrestrial beings, but it is far more likely that they just had skills and techniques that have been lost over time.

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Possible Calendar on the Gate of the Sun

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Solid Wall with Figures

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Entrance to the Akapana Pyramid

We enjoyed seeing some of the amazing things that still remained though, including the “Gate of the Sun”, which we were told contained an ancient calendar.  One could easily imagine the ancestors of the Amarya people using the different stone structures as a celestial calendar to determine the seasons.  The site itself is very vast and there apparently has been some recent attempts to use ground penetrating radar to determine if there are more ruins to be found in the surrounding area, perhaps buried just below the surface.  As we stood at the site where the priests would recite prayers and give speeches to the people, Ricky explained that there were other stone platforms every few hundred yards where lower priests would repeat the words of the head priest so that all of the people in the large city could hear what was being said.  It takes a little imagination, standing there pretty much alone in these ruins, to envision it filled with thousands of ancient people.

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Supposed Alien Face in Tiwanaku

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Akapana from the Distance

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Very Worn Statue

Tiwanaku, despite its condition, was still definitely awe inspiring.  Walking amongst temples that were built in South America long before Europeans would make their way to the shores of these lands provides a brief glimpse into the pride displayed by every Bolivian that we met.  There was such a vast civilization with cities and buildings that have withstood the ravages of time that is truly fascinating to see.  If you visit La Paz, Bolivia, taking time to go to Tiwanaku is certainly worth taking the time to visit.

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On Our Way to Pittsburgh Once Again

Pittsburgh is a city with a very relaxed feel and friendly people. We are going back for a quick visit, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t looking forward to some good food, like pierogies, and seeing some people that we met previously. The weather might not be nice enough to walk around too much so we’ll have to make the most of our free time. These photos are from our last trip, but we are looking forward to making new memories.

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The Strip in Downtown Pittsburgh

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Yellow Bridges

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Classic Pierogis

 

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Time for an Annual Website Review

It is important that you take a look at your social media accounts and websites at least on an annual basis.  Whether it is your profile photos or information, tag lines, or about pages, information needs to be looked at with a fresh set of eyes on an ongoing basis. Realistically speaking, it is probably worth doing more than just once a year, but that is about the minimum amount of time to let go by and using the start of the new year is an easy way to always remember to get it done.

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Possible New About Photo

Whether it is looking at any unintentional clutter on your landing page or making sure that it is easily navigable or looking at the content on your about page and making sure that it is up to date, there are a variety of things that we try to do at this time of year. We are always amazed when we take the time to go to our About page and update it, how much we tend to “set it and forget it”. Since it is often the first place that people visit to learn about who you are, it definitely shouldn’t be such an after thought.

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Maybe Our Profile Photo

Profile photos are another thing that need to be revisited often and making sure that they are consistent across all of your media sites. Whether you use a photo or something like an avatar, it is important that it isn’t too out of date. Having a photo that is several years old isn’t a true representation of yourself. With that said, it is definitely time for us to update ours as it is a year old at this point. We’re traveling next week, but we expect to get our updates done before the end of the month. Do you have a schedule for updating and refreshing you layout and profile information?

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Perhaps Something from Panama

 

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The Food of New Orleans

New Orleans is definitely a destination for food lovers with all of the quality restaurants offering authentic regional food at various prices. Whether you are on a budget or want to go out for an elegant dinner, there are many choices that will provide an incredible eating experience. Seafood is at the heart of the meals that you will find in New Orleans, but there are plenty of other dishes that are uniquely Cajun. You will likely find Po-Boys, Gumbo, Jambalaya, and beignets on most menus as well as fresh snapper, oysters, and Crawfish Etouffee. There are other interesting items such as turtle soup, fried aligator, shrimp and grits, as well as local takes on eggs benedict.

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Crawfish Etouffee

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Meeting the Chef at The Briquette

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Duck Breast Jambalaya

The very first restaurant that we ate at was Oceana’s, which is just off of Bourbon Street and turned out to be a place that we visited several times because their food was so good. Like many restaurants, if you don’t go during non-traditional meal times, you can expect to wait in long lines that stretch down the street. Fortunately we like sitting at the bar as well as eating at different times, so we didn’t have any trouble getting served. We ate Oysters Rockefeller, Oceana’s Famous Oysters, Aligator Bites, Seafood Crepe, and a wonderful Bloody Mary during our different visits. The Crawfish Etouffee at the Royal House was one of the best meals that we ate during our entire stay. For a filling breakfast or brunch, going to the Stanley at Jackson Square can’t be beat and we had their Seafood Breakfast, which had fried oysters and shrimp, fried soft shell crab, and eggs benedict. It was delicious.

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Oceana’s Famous Oysters

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Seafood Breakfast at the Stanley

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Bloody Mary at Oceana’s

We went out for a couple of more upscale dinners including The Briquette where we were introduced to the chef by the owner and got to see our own fish on the grill. The food there is always fresh and we had the whole Red Fish filet as well as tournedos of beef and scallops. We also ate at Muriel’s on Jackson Square where we ate Turtle Soup, Cauliflower Soup, Duck Breast Jambalaya, and Pan Seared Scallops. There were also stops at Tableau and the Chartres House for Gumbo, Crawfish Bread, and Spicy Pecan Popcorn.

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Oyster Po-Boy with Red Beans and Rice

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Shrimp and Grits

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Beignets

We were in New Orleans for a week, so if the list of places that we visited seems long, it is simply because we were eating out several times every day. Obviously we had to have an Oyster Po-Boy, which we did at Desire as well as getting fresh oysters. We went to Curios for brunch where we had traditional Beignets as well as Shrimp and Grits. We made our way to the Carousel Bar for a Caesar Salad and Le Bayou for fresh oysters as well.

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Turtle Soup

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Spicy Caramel Popcorn

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Gumbo

Needless to say, when in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter, there is more than just food. For drinks we went to many different locations, but one of the most interesting was Pirate’s Alley Café, which truly is in an alley. The 21st Amendment where we were treated to live jazz and a few glasses of wine. Finnegan’s was one of our favorite Irish dive bars, but we also enjoyed The Erin Rose where they serve an excellent po-boy. We enjoyed live music at The Drinkery as well as a few other places, including street performers on Bourbon Street.

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Pan Seared Scallops

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Erin Rose Irish Bar

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Crawfish Bread

You won’t go hungry when visiting New Orleans. With so many options and friendly staff wherever you go, there really aren’t too many bad choices. We’d recommend doing what we do, which is to ask the bartenders and wait staff at the places that you visit where they would recommend that you eat, usually requesting that they tell where the locals go, not necessarily the tourists. We were given great recommendations as well as just finding places as walked throughout the French Quarter. As we mentioned before, it is busy, so be sure to either make reservations in advance where you can and expect lines in the places that don’t accept reservations.

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Fried Aligator Bites

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Fresh Oysters

 

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The Twin Towers of Gothic and Romanesque Cathedrals

One of the things that you notice as you visit cathedrals around the world are the twin towers on both gothic and Romanesque style cathedrals. They are certainly beautiful and provide a sense of symmetry, but we were curious if there was any particular symbolism behind them. We did what most people do today and did some searches on the internet to see if there was any significance in having towers flank the main entrance to the cathedral, but what discovered was that there apparently isn’t any particular meaning behind them, at least from a religious standpoint. More likely than not, it is just a preference by the artist or architect that created the design. One of the more interesting theories that we read about was that it was introduced by the Freemasons as part of their symbolism, but there are plenty of other theories surrounding the Freemasons. Regardless of whether there is meaning behind these pairs of towers, we have certainly enjoyed seeing them all around the world.

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna

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Notre Dame in Paris

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Catedral Metropolitana in Panama

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Front of the Basilica in Quito, Ecuador

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Cologne Cathedral and the Rhine River

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Chicago Towers

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Twin Towers on the Church in Koblenz

 

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The French Quarter in New Orleans

 

Certainly the highlight of any trip to New Orleans, Louisiana is visiting the French Quarter. With a history that dates back to 1718, there are many different sites to see when spending time in the French Quarter. One of the first things that comes to mind when talking about the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, which is in the heart of the neighborhood. Regardless of the time of year, it can be raucous with many different bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Although there are parades and special events during Mardi Gras, the street is pretty much an outdoor party all year as people are allowed to take drinks with them in plastic cups as they walk the streets. Although it can be a fun street to visit, there is certainly a lot more to see in the French Quarter than just Bourbon Street.

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Walking Bourbon Street at Dusk

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Very Busy Jackson Square

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St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square

Jackson Square with its bronze statues of Andrew Jackson and proximity between the St. Louis Cathedral and the Mississippi River is an absolute must to visit. It is a beautiful park and is usually surrounded by artists selling arts and crafts as well as performers entertaining the crowds that gather in the area. A walk along the river or taking a tour on one of the historic paddle ships such as the Natchez should also be on your agenda. Obviously the St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest continuously operating catholic cathedral operating in the United States, is worth spending about an hour visiting. Located next to the cathedral is The Cabildo where you can see exhibits providing information on the history of New Orleans and Louisiana.

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Historic Streets

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Artists in Jackson Square

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Voodoo Shop

In addition to the restaurants and typical tourist shops, you will find several voodoo shops in the French Quarter where you can buy yourself a voodoo doll or perhaps have a psychic reading done if you are interested. You will also find many different tour companies that offer ghost and cemetery tours and you will find many of them walking the streets after it the sun goes down. If you want a more lively way to spend your evening, there are lots of nightclubs offering live music, including jazz, Dixieland, as well as modern rock bands. As the night goes on, Bourbon Street becomes livelier and livelier and it is certainly not an environment for anyone under the age of 21.

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Carriage in the French Quarter

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Sign for a Voodoo Shop

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Another View of Bourbon Street

Any trip to New Orleans should include sampling many of the varieties of food that are very specific to the region. You can find many different styles from inexpensive to the most formal meals. You should certainly expect long lines at many of the restaurants that don’t take reservations and for those that do accept them, you should plan to make reservations well in advance. In addition to the various foods such as po-boys, oysters, seafood, and crawfish, there are also several specialty drinks that can be found. Having a Hurricane or Sazerac are certainly worth having if you are looking for a unique adult beverage.

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Natchez Riverboat

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Mississippi River

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Walking the Streets at Christmas

Overall, we would say that spending time in the French Quarter is a lot like visiting the Las Vegas Strip, meaning that it is probably worth about three or four days and is certainly not a great place for children to visit after dark. Regardless of the time of day, we really enjoyed walking the streets of the French Quarter including Royal Street with all of its art galleries, Jackson Square, and even spending time on Bourbon Street.

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Inventor of the Hurricane Drink

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St. Louis Cathedral

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Beautiful Architecture

 

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Old New Orleans Rum Distillery in New Orleans

One of the places that we visited during our trip to New Orleans, Louisiana was the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery. They offer several tours a day during the week and a couple of tours on the weekend and the cost is extremely reasonable at $15 per person. It is the oldest premium rum distillery in the United States, which has more to do with the fact that the previous distilleries all closed in the 1970’s, so when they opened in the 1990’s, they became the first to reestablish a presence once again. Now there are more than 200 distilleries making rum once again, but the Old New Orleans Distillery is not only the oldest, but probably one of the best, winning several awards.

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Cranberry Lime Punch

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Preparing for the Trivia Game

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Describing the Distilling Process

We were greeted with a cranberry lime punch with their Cajun Spice Rum. It was absolutely delicious and certainly a great start to our tour. Then our guide, Bob, began explaining the history of the distillery, as well as rum in general, while pouring several shots into cups in front of him. He then engaged our group with a quiz where the person who answered the question correctly was rewarded with one of the shots of rum. We answered a couple of questions, but stopped answering anymore since we knew that there was still a tasting to come later in the tour. It was a fun and lively way to get the entire group to participate and learn some interesting facts.

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Distillery Vats

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Katrina Flood Line Marker

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Explaining the Tasting Process

We then entered the distillery itself and learned about the process of distilling rum. Interestingly, it doesn’t take as long to make excellent rum as it does other types of alcohol. We were shown the marks on the wall that showed how high the floods of Hurricane Katrina had reached within the distillery causing them to lose a majority of the oldest rum. Today, they keep the oldest rum on the highest shelves in order to avoid that from ever happening again. As with any distillery tour, it was informative and interesting to learn what makes them so passionate about their product. They are very proud of the fact that they take the extra step to filter the rum with activated charcoal, which makes it even smoother and enhances the overall flavor.

 

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Charcoal to Filter the Rum

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Oldest Rum Up High

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Barrels of Rum

After the tour, we ended with a tasting of all six varieties of rum that they produce. We were certainly warm inside by the time our tour had concluded. Obviously there is the option to buy bottles of rum at a discount, but since we were traveling with carry-on bags only, we chose not to purchase anything at the time. We will, however, definitely look for them at our local liquor stores and certainly buy one of them the next time we are need of some rum for a party. If you have a few hours to spend while you are in New Orleans, taking a tour at the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery is certainly a worthwhile activity.

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2018 – A Year in Review

As we start a brand new year, we thought we would look back at the previous year and take a moment to reflect on where we have been. First of all, this was the first year in a couple of years where we were living in the United States for the full year. What is obvious to anyone who has lived in Europe as well as in the States is that international travel is not as easy and much more expensive from the US compared to being in Europe where a different country is often as close as a few hour train ride away. That being said, we did have a couple of big trips outside of the country that will be some of our favorite memories for years. It did force us to spend a little bit more time traveling domestically, which is certainly just as worthwhile as going to different states within the country can be as unique as going to a completely different country. If our trips didn’t keep us busy enough on their own, it was a hectic year from a work perspective and we moved into a new home in September. We had a total of ten trips throughout the year and enjoyed meeting new people, eating a variety of food, and having some very unique experiences. Here is a brief recap of our year:

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Sunset Flying Home from Our Final Trip of 2018

  1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – We had driven through Pittsburgh in the past, but never actually spent time there. We were able to spend a few days in this city that is definitely in the process of growing quite dramatically. It is the type of city that we would consider to be a mid-sized city with very friendly people and a unique food scene.

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    One of the Many Bridges in Pittsburgh

  2. Austin, Texas – We actually had a couple of opportunities to visit Austin during the year and it is a city with a reputation for music as well as barbeque. It is certainly a place where you will find yourself slowing down to relax and find the people who live there to be very laid back and easy going.

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    Capital Building in Austin

  3. Northern Virginia – Work sent us to the area and we didn’t get to spend too much time exploring, but it is still a place that has special memories for us as we lived in the area many years ago.

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    Walking the Side Streets of Old Town Alexandria

  4. Egypt – Probably the highlight of the year as we spent time in Cairo as well as taking a river cruise on the Nile from Luxor down to Aswan. The memories of this trip will certainly last a lifetime as it was not only a favorite of the year, but one of the best trips that we’ve ever taken. We would highly recommend that people put their fears aside and take time to visit this historic country with a fascinating culture.

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    Pyramid in Giza

  5. Alamosa, Colorado – We decided to revisit the Great Sand Dunes in southwest Colorado and it was truly a wonderful experiences. Travel doesn’t always have to be to the far corners of the planet to be interesting and provide an interesting view of the world we live in.

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    Great Sand Dunes in Colorado

  6. Sante Fe, New Mexico – With a reputation for art, food, and a healthy lifestyle, visiting Sante Fe was a perfect getaway destination for us. It is also a city with a very rich history including some of the oldest buildings in the United States.

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    Statue in Front of the Cathedral in Sante Fe

  7. Carlsbad, California – As the weather started turning colder here in Colorado, we decided to head to the beach. Just north of San Diego, this resort town is a perfect place to go and do some surfing, fishing, or just relax on the beach. We enjoyed watching sunsets over the ocean while enjoying wonderful seafood.

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    One of the Sunsets in Carlsbad

  8. Panama – The second of our “big” trips this year was to go to Central America and get into the jungle once again. We are certain that this country will be on a lot of people’s destination list this year, but we are glad that we took the time to visit at the birth of their embrace of ecotourism. It was certainly a wonderful experience.

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    We Made a Furry Friend in Panama

  9. New Orleans, Louisiana – For our final trip of the year, we visited the “Crescent City” on the Gulf of Mexico. With its historic French Quarter that has survived hundreds of years, fires, and even catastrophic flooding, it is certainly an American classic. It was certainly a wonderful place for us to spend our holidays.

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    Jackson Square in New Orleans

With so many wonderful memories, 2018 was certainly a very good year. We haven’t begun to plan our trips for 2019, but hopefully it will be as full of adventures as the previous year. We wish all of you a Happy New Year and hope it that provides you with all of the happiness that you are hoping for.

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Christmas in New Orleans

We decided to spend our holiday week in New Orleans, Louisiana, and it was definitely an enjoyable trip. We stayed in the French Quarter and spent our days wandering the streets, doing some tours, and eating wonderful meals. New Orleans is one of those places that has its own unique take on the holidays, especially in the French Quarter, which is the old town section of the city with a history that goes back hundreds of years.

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Uniquely New Orleans

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Altar in the St. Louis Cathedral

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Festive Streets in the French Quarter

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Hotel Decorations

Although it was the holidays, the French Quarter remains pretty much the same as it does throughout the year, meaning that it is basically a big party. The streets were a little quieter on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but generally there were a lot of tourists in town and the restaurants were very busy. Many of the buildings were decorated for the holidays and we enjoyed seeing some of the more whimsical decorations. As with many other cities, hotel lobbies are adorned with elaborate decorations as are many of the restaurant interiors.

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Jazz Paintings and Holiday Lights

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Whimsical Fun

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Nativity Scene in the Cathedral

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Restaurant Decorated for the Holidays

To really get a feel for how festive the streets are decorated, it is best to see them at night when the lights are all lit. We happened to do a carriage ride one evening and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the balconies all brightly decorated throughout the French Quarter. There are many other places to see holiday lights in New Orleans, but there is something special about seeing the decorations in such a historic atmosphere. In many ways it reminded us of the decorations that we saw throughout Europe on other trips we have taken.

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Decorations at Night

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Christmas Tree Near Jackson Square

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Historic Building with Decorations

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Southern Elegance

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Christmas Tree in a Hotel

 

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