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.

DSC_9751

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
DSC_9729

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.

DSC_9740

Cherry Compote

DSC_9747

Seasoned Pork Chops

DSC_9752

Moist Pork Chop

DSC_9768

Pork Chop with Cherry Compote

 

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mi Teleferico in La Paz, Bolivia

Public transportation using cable cars in the highest capital in the world, La Paz, is certainly quite interesting. When you consider the fact that city is literally built on the sides of a mountain as well as a dense population, getting around the city wasn’t easy until the cable car system was built. Now, instead of winding through narrow streets with steep inclines, people soar over the rooftops to one of the different destinations. There are 3 interconnected lines, just like most transit systems, with red, yellow, and green lines. Although it is a method of transportation that allows citizens to move throughout the city, it is also an incredible way for tourists to truly see this amazing city from a different standpoint.

IMGP8650

Colorful Buildings

IMGP8644

Riding in the Cable Cars

IMGP8656

Rugged Scenery

IMGP8678

One of the Few Bridges

During our trip to La Paz, we took a combination of the yellow and green lines as a round trip that let us see a majority of the city. Between all of the lines, there are a total of 11 stations or stops that you can enter or exit from that each head to different areas within the city. The cable cars run between 5:00 am until 10:00 pm and, although we only went during the day, the views would be amazing in the evening as well. One of the things that stands out as you ride above the city is that La Paz is a very colorful city with interesting architectural details.

IMGP8676

Interesting Architecture

IMGP8643

One of the Green Line Stations

IMGP8639

Mountainous Backdrop

IMGP8663

City Sprawling Across the Valley

La Paz is certainly an fascinating city with very friendly people and is definitely worth visiting if you are going to Bolivia. If you do visit La Paz, we’d recommend taking time to see the Valley of the Moon in addition to riding on Mi Teleferico as the cable car system is known. Seeing the city from the heights of the cars is certainly one of our favorite memories of our time in Bolivia. We also took a couple of day trips from La Paz to do Death Road as well as went to Tiwanaku, Copacabana, and Lake Titicaca where we went to Sun and Moon Island.

IMGP8659 - Copy

Above the Rooftops

IMGP8648

Heading Towards the Station

IMGP8641

Great View of La Paz

 

Posted in South America | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Altare della Patria in Rome, Italy

Located about halfway between the Pantheon and the Colosseum, the Atare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), which is also known as the Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, can be seen from throughout the neighboring streets. It is a huge, marble building that also has the tomb of the unknown soldier, the army museum, and a panoramic viewing platform. There is also the busy Piazza Venezia located across from the building as well as the Santa Maria di Loreto church. What certainly stands out are the different statues, including the two of the goddess Victoria riding on a chariot being pulled by four horses known as a quadrigas.

DSC_2456

Altera della Patria

DSC_2468

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Below the Goddess Roma

DSC_2474

Statue of Victor Emmanuel II on Horseback

IMGP2313

View of the Roman Forum and Colosseum from the Rooftop

DSC_2462

Piazza Venezia

After the death of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy, in 1878, the government approved construction of the monument. It was built on the northern side of Rome’s Capital Hill and construction began in 1885. It stands out due to its grand size, bright white marble, and tall columns on its façade. As you walk up the stairs to where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located, which is below a statue of the goddess Roma, the views of the city start to become impressive. In addition to the tomb with its uniformed guards, there is also the eternal flame located there as well. The statue of Victor Emmanuel II on horseback is certainly a dominating feature.

DSC_2471

Eternal Flame

IMG_4935

Goddess Roma

DSC_2493

Looking Out Over Piazza Venezia

DSC_2483

The Columns and Statues of the Monument

DSC_2467

Starting Up the Stairs

To enjoy even more amazing views of Rome’s skyline, take the lift to the rooftop that was added in 2007. From the rooftop, the unique buildings and architecture of this historic city spread out all around you. You can also see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum from the rooftop viewing platform, which is almost more impressive than seeing it from the ground below. The views of the city are probably the highlight of the monument, but the army museum is interesting as well. From the stairs or the rooftop, the beautiful Piazza Venezia with its busy roundabout stretches out before you and there are many restaurants in the area. We enjoyed lunch at a restaurant that had seats on an outdoor balcony that was directly across from the monument building.

IMGP2331

City Views

IMGP2325

Mix of Architecture

IMGP2332

Goddess Victoria on Her Chariot

DSC_2482

Looking Down at the Square and the Church

IMG_4949

Standing on the Rooftop

From what we’ve read, there are some mixed feelings for locals regarding the Altare dell Patria, some of national pride and others feeling that it is a little too ostentatious. Either way, since it is centrally located and has the rooftop viewing platform, it is certainly a location that should be part of your walking tour of Rome. We visited on our second day and found it an easy walk from the Pantheon through Rome’s winding streets.

IMGP2310

View of the Roman Forum

DSC_2500

Sitting on the Restaurant’s Balcony

DSC_2499

Display in the Museum

IMGP2324

Rooftops of the City

IMGP2299

The Back of the Statue as Seen from the Roman Forum

 

Posted in Italy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When Traveling, It is the Journey as WELL as the Destination

There is the famous saying about life that it is the journey and not the destination. When it comes to travel, it is actually often about both. Travel is not always easy for a lot of reasons. There are a variety of barriers to overcome from costs to cultural or language gaps. Other times it is just the travel itself that can be difficult. We do our best to have contingency plans, travel insurance, and just generally be prepared. With that said, you can’t plan for everything. Even when everything goes right, it doesn’t mean that it is always easy, especially in certain parts of the world. Depending on where you travel to, transportation to certain parts of the country can be difficult. Assuming that all goes well, we look back on those moments as just another part of the adventure. We try to capture those moments as much as possible and look back on them with some fondness as we think about the places that we’ve visited. Do you memorialize your journey in pictures as well or just the final destination?

IMGP8832

Definitely a Bumpy Road

IMGP7435

Traffic on Narrow, Dirt Roads

DSC_0148_day3

Driving an Isolated Road in Iceland

DSC02019

Streets of Chennai, India

DSC_5482

Riding in the Carriage Through Edfu, Egypt

IMGP8001

Driving Through the Bolivian Countryside

 

Posted in Photo Challenge, Travel Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Eating Like a Local

We’ve always recommended that you eat local cuisine when traveling. It is another way of experiencing a culture and understanding the way that they live. In order to do so, we’ve always gotten recommendations from locals and not just people at the hotel. We have tried such a wide variety of foods over the years, some of them pretty normal, and a few that have stretched our gastronomic limits. Here are a few of our more memorable eating experiences.

IMG_6429

Quarter Cuy

  1. Cuy in Ecuador – We had read about this local dish before we went to Ecuador, but we were apprehensive about actually trying it. Cuy is actually a Guinea Pig, so it is hard to wrap our heads around trying it, but when we finally decided to give it a try, we actually liked it.

    img_2718

    Pork Stomach in Germany

  2. Cow Stomach in Germany – That is what it said on the menu, but it was really a cow’s intestine stuffed with pork, vegetables, and potatoes to create a kind of large sausage. If it wasn’t for the translation on the menu, we wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but it was definitely delicious.

    DSC_9207

    Tilapia and Plantains

  3.  Eating Fish in Banana Leaves in Panama – When we visited the Embera village in Panama, we were treated with a local meal of fish and plantains cooked and served in a banana leaf. We also had something similar during our trip to Ecuador when visiting an indigenous village in the Amazon. That is definitely eating like a local.

    img_1206

    Crawfish Etouffee

  4.  Crawfish Etouffee in New Orleans – We had so many amazing meals in New Orleans from turtle soup, jambalaya, fried oyster po’boys, etc., but one of our favorite was the crawfish etouffee.

    IMG_2130

    Pique Macho

  5.  Pique Macho in Bolivia – Considered a local favorite in Bolivia, it is a mix of rice, fried potatoes, hot dogs, tomatoes, beef, onion, and peppers (and sometimes egg). It is a LOT of food. We shared a half-order and still couldn’t come close to finishing it.

    IMGP3717

    Delicious Squid in Estepona

  6.  Whole Squid in Southern Spain – We’ve had squid plenty of times, usually fried as calimari and on occasion grilled, but we’d never had it served whole. We went to a local restaurant where they didn’t speak English and the owner just pointed us to the meal of the day, which turned out to be grilled squid. It was amazing.

    IMG_4536

    Seafood Tower

  7.  Interesting Shellfish in Amsterdam – We ordered a tower of seafood when we were in Amsterdam and we were served a variety of shellfish. Some of the them were pretty normal, but there were a few things on there that we had no idea what they were. We gave them all a try, but we didn’t care for everything.

    IMG_4087

    Cabbage and Grape Leaf Rolls in Romania

  8.  Stuffed Cabbage and Grape Leaves in Romania – It was definitely a little different than any stuffed cabbage that we’ve eaten at home. Served with polenta and a spicy pepper, it was very much a local experience.

Needless to say, these are just a few of the things that we have tried during our travels, but they definitely stand out in our memories. The only thing that we have refused to eat was puffin in Iceland. It wasn’t because we were afraid that it wouldn’t taste good, we just believed that serving puffin was depleting the species and we didn’t want to contribute to that. We will continue to try different dishes and look forward to finding that surprising meal that we never expected to eat.

Posted in Food, Recipes, Travel Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest is the capital of Romania and was the first city that we visited during our trip to Romania before heading to Brasov. We were there in winter and the streets were covered with snow, but we still found it interesting. Bucharest became the capital of Romania in 1862 and was, at one time, considered to be “little Paris” because of its architecture and culture, but due to the wars, much of the architecture was destroyed. Although many of buildings have been restored, the city has evolved over time.

IMGP1515

The University Building

IMGP1517

One of the Interesting Churches

IMGP1527

Dome at a Church Entrance

IMGP1507

Museum of Art

IMGP1541

Interesting Artwork in the Monastery

Like most historic cities, walking the streets of the old town area is certainly a worthwhile experience. You will find many restaurants, some old churches and buildings, as well as some modern shops and adult stores. Although there is a definite mix of utilitarian buildings as well as historic buildings, we definitely saw several very interesting buildings. It is certainly worth visiting the Galeria de Arta Romaneasca and the Central de la Universidad de Bucharest, with its statue of Carol I on horseback, has wonderful architectural features. The area is also known as Revolution Square and there is an interesting obelisk that is a monument for the anti-communist revolution of 1989.

IMGP1533

Monastery Exterior

IMGP1549

Walking the Streets of Old Town

IMGP1505

Unique Architecture

IMGP1529

Snow Covered Statue

IMGP1553

More Traditional Church

There are several old churches that you can visit as well that are very interesting. One of the most interesting is the Church of Stavropoleos Monastery in old town Bucharest. With interesting murals inside on the walls and ceilings, its architecture is done in the Byzantine tradition. It is certainly quite a contrast to the buildings that surround it. We went to a couple of restaurants and found the people to be very friendly, but be sure to always have small change with you as the waiters are likely to tell you that they don’t have change in hopes of getting you to pay more than the actual price. We were fortunate enough to have musicians playing local, folk music at one of the restaurants that we visited.

IMGP1534

Monastery Entrance

IMGP1556

IMGP1542

Ceiling in the Monastery

IMG_3988

Spicy Beef with Polenta

In general, we found Bucharest to be a city of contrasts. It was our first experience in an Eastern European country and it was very fascinating. Bucharest is the sixth larges city in the European Union with almost 2.5 million residents, so it can certainly be busy. After leaving Bucharest, we went to Transylvania and the city of Brasov, which was quite different than the capital city and something that we would highly recommend. We will be visiting the neighboring country of Hungary and the city of Budapest in a couple of months and are anxious to compare our different experiences.

IMGP1564

Revolution Square Statue

IMGP1563

Culturally Important Statues

IMGP1539

Monastery Dome

IMGP1524

Interesting Architecture

IMG_3992

Sweet Dessert

IMGP1511

Statue of Carol I

 

Posted in Romania | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter?

Posted in Travel Tips | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Architecture of Prague in the Czech Republic

There are many cities in Europe that have maintained their old-world charm and Prague is certainly one of them. There are so many interesting buildings in Prague that display various styles and unique features. One of the things that makes the architecture of Prague so fascinating is that it encompasses several styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. From the castle complex that looms over the old town of the city to the many unique towers throughout the city, there is so much to see. Even if you never stepped foot inside one of the amazing buildings, you could walk the streets for a couple of days and still find yourself in awe of the stunning architecture.

IMGP0940

Walking the Streets of Prague

IMGP0828

Variety of Architectural Styles

IMGP0947

Wonderful Features of the Buildings

IMGP0864

Fascinating Details

IMGP0856b

Pointed Towers in Prague

IMGP0881

St. Vitus Cathedral

From the moment that we arrived in Prague, we focused our cameras at the façades of the buildings as we walked through old town. One of the reasons that the architecture of the city remains so diverse is that it was not destroyed during WWII and therefore didn’t need to be rebuilt like many other European cities. The Romanesque architecture is based on what you would expect, the style of the ancient romans with symmetrical designs, round arches and towers. This style of architecture spans back to the 9th century and lasted for about 400 years.

IMGP0951

Every Street Provides Wonderful Views

IMGP0913

Features at the Palace

IMGP0853

Astrological Clock

IMGP0806

Castle Complex

IMGP0777

Buildings as a Work of Art

IMGP0842

Domed Building

Prague, like a lot of cities throughout Europe, was highly influenced by the Gothic architecture of the 13th century. With the flying buttresses and pointed arches, the Gothic style can be found in more than just the St. Vitus Cathedral in the castle complex. Between their dark exteriors, gargoyles, and imposing size, the buildings seem to demonstrate the power of the church and put fear in the hearts of regular citizens. Today, these buildings are truly fascinating with all of the intricate details and impressive towers.

IMGP0787

Contrasting Architecture

IMGP0900

Gothic Clock Tower

IMGP0952

One of the Many Streets in Prague

IMGP0817

Looking Across the River

IMG_3527

Standing in Front of the Palace

IMGP0851

Another Clock Tower

Perhaps not surprisingly, following the Gothic period, the Renaissance architecture was lighter and more appealing. Based on Greek and Roman architecture with columns, symmetrical and geometric features, they are bright and open. Starting in Florence in the 15th century, the Renaissance style also features statues that were also influenced by the ancient works of Greece and Rome. These buildings provide quite a contrast to the darker Gothic buildings of the city.

IMGP0867

Palace Building

IMGP0837

Different Towers and Domes

IMGP0840

Bridge Tower

IMGP0803

Looking at the Building’s Features

IMGP0782

Looking Towards Charles Bridge

IMGP0824

View of Prague

There are other styles of architecture to be found in Prague that include Baroque, Classicism, and Historicism. Regardless of the period, walking the streets of Prague is truly a trip back into history. The contrasting styles located in such close proximity to each other, makes the experience even more fascinating. The architecture of Prague is part of what attracts so many visitors every year and has put the city on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

IMG_3529

Building in the Castle Complex

IMGP0797

Features of the Charles Bridge Tower

IMGP0801

Statues on the Front of a Building

IMGP0788

Another Building in Prague

IMGP0810

More Buildings Along the River

IMGP0831

Narrow Streets and Wonderful Architecture

 

Posted in Czech Republic | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Casting a Long Shadow

When you have significant influence over other people or events in the world, you are considered to “cast a long shadow”. Today, in the social media world, these people are just called influencers. Regardless of whether we would be considered to be influencers, we do follow several people who are and use them as role models. It isn’t easy to tell how far your shadow actually reaches as it is just a metaphor and not something truly tangible. Often times, people have greater influence than they actually realize. What if you could actually see the shadow that you cast? We love the way shadows provide a different perspective at times and perhaps seeing your own influence would change your perception of the things that you do on a daily basis.

DSC_0092_day3

Inadvertently Capturing Our Shadow in Iceland

imgp2889_bw

Balancing Rock in India

IMGP1152

Shadows Stretching from the Temple of Olympian Zeus

IMGP8488

Light and Shadows in Cochabamba, Bolivia

IMG_0928

Colonial Building and Shadows in Pennsylvania

IMGP2515

Shadows Across a Trail in Colorado

DSC_5523

Temple Column Shadows in Edfu, Egypt

 

Posted in Blogging, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Need an Actual Camera When You Travel?

With cell phone cameras getting better and better every year, it begs the question whether or not you should take up room in your bags for a camera. Even if we have a camera with us, we still use our camera phones in addition to using a traditional camera. On a couple of occasions we have decided not to take our camera with us at all, but in most cases we always take a camera with us. There are several reasons for packing our camera and extra lenses when traveling, despite the improvements in cell phone camera technology.

IMG_0444

Monkey in Panama with a Phone

DSC_8577

Taken with a Camera and Zoom Lens

IMGP2291

Colosseum in Rome with the Camera and Zoom

IMG_4870

Zoomed Using the Cell Phone

We have a couple of lenses for our camera, including a vibration reduction zoom lens. There are many times during a trip that we get the opportunity to have amazing views of a city or landscape. Having a camera with a zoom lens allows us to take photographs of objects in the distance and see them in a way that we couldn’t otherwise. Many of these photographs turn out to be some of our favorite photographs from a location. Another benefit that we find for taking photographs with a camera when traveling is that we can quickly focus on various objects as we walk through a location. Whether on a tour or just walking through a place on our own, we don’t want to stop every 30 seconds to take a picture and we find that we can get photographs of different objects without having to come to a full stop and playing with the zoom of a camera phone.

DSC_9449

Quick Picture in the French Quarter of New Orleans

IMG_1049

Same Shot from the Camera Phone

IMG_4612

Florence Skyline from the Phone

IMGP2240

Zooming in Really Close with the Camera

With that said, there are times when the cell phone camera is our preferred choice.  Obviously, there are the selfies, probably one of the biggest reasons that camera phones became popular. Also, when we are in a restaurant and want to take a photograph of our food, we’re not likely to pull out our camera and snap a few pictures. Depending on the lighting, we have also found that cell phone cameras work fairly well in low light situations like inside of buildings, churches, and museums. There certainly isn’t any doubt that camera phones continue to improve and they can produce high quality photographs.

IMGP1344

Camera Inside of the Church in Nuremberg

IMG_3872

Taken with the Cell Phone

We have included several similar photographs here, one taken with the camera and the other will the cell phone. Obviously, there are other factors that come into play regarding the results, but we found the comparison interesting. For the reasons previously mentioned, we’ll continue to take a camera with us, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should. Would you leave your camera at home on your next trip and rely solely on your cell phone camera?

IMG_7683

Statues in Luxor, Egypt from the Phone

DSC_5105

Same Statues with the Camera

 

Posted in Travel Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments