The Christmas Markets of Vienna, Austria

There are many reasons to visit the historic city of Vienna in Austria, but planning a trip in November will treat you with the extra treat of the Christmas markets. The markets in Vienna start in the middle of November, which is earlier than most of the other markets in Europe. We were there two years ago and visited four different Christmas markets that were located near the top sightseeing sites in the city. Although you can certainly visit the Christmas markets during the day, to really enjoy them, you should go at night.

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Glass Ornaments for Sale

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We Still Have One of These Gluhwein Mugs

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Plenty of Crowds at the Markets

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So Many Options for Gifts

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Angels

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Specialty Teas

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Outside of the Cathedral

Obviously there are plenty of hot drinks to be found such as hot chocolate and gluhwein (hot mulled wine), but there are many more things to be found in the markets. Handmade crafts are on display with many of them being for the holiday season as well as items that make excellent gifts for family and friends. Food is certainly another highlight of all of the markets with many choices of bratwurst, roasted chestnuts, pretzels, and a variety of sweets. We actually purchased a candle holder with images of Mozart and Vienna at one of the stalls as a souvenir of our trip.

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Unique Gifts

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Ice Skating at a Market

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Fairies

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Wein Lounge

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Where We Bought our Candle Holder

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Getting Busy

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Colorful Hats

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Perfect Setting for a Market

The markets are a great place to spend time with family and friends or just to stroll as a couple. With so many people gathering to enjoy the spirit of the season, they are certainly places of happiness. One of the markets that we visited in Vienna also included ice skating as they had frozen the walking paths and turned them into a skating rink. It certainly was one of the more unique Christmas markets that we have seen. Clearly Vienna has many reasons to visit at any time of the year such as the palace, opera house, and cathedral, but if you plan your trip during the holidays you will also get to enjoy some of the best Christmas markets in all of Europe.

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Frozen Sidewalk for Ice Skating

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Late in the Day

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One of Four Christmas Markets that We Visited

 

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Christmas Decorations

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One of the Smaller Markets

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Great for the Whole Family

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Handmade Ornaments

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Toys for Sale

 

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Hochheim, Germany

Located just couple of hours outside of Frankfurt, we visited Hochheim for a quick day trip from the city. It is a small town surrounded by vineyards and still retains its medieval charm. It was early November and the town was holding its annual festival and market, so it was a lot busier than it normally would have been, but that also made it fun for us. It was a quick train ride from Frankfurt and since we had monthly passes for the train, we simply had to pay a little extra to get to the nearby town.

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Quiet Side Street

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Cookies and Sweets

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Decorative Stall

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Church and Vineyard

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Food to Keep You Warm

After walking up the hill from the train station past the vineyard and the church, we entered the town through its main gate. After walking the quiet streets for a few minutes, we found a nice Italian pizzeria called La Botte to grab some lunch and have a glass of beer and wine. After lunch we continued towards the heart of the town and quickly realized that we had come to Hochheim on the right weekend as the market was in full swing. We certainly weren’t the only ones who had decided to come to Hochheim for the day.

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Entrance to Hochheim

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Italian Restaurant

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Medieval Architecture

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Statue in the Town Square

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Nuts, Popcorn, and Candied Apples

The Hochheim Market has been held since 1484 and is actually considered one of the biggest fairs in Germany. A combination of fair, market, and festival, there was plenty of food, gluhwein, crafts, and rides for the children. It is a seven day festival and market, which happened to just be starting. A banner for the local winery welcomed everyone into the market and it got busier and busier as the day went along. This would be the first of the many markets that we enjoyed during our time in Germany, so it has a special place in our hearts.

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Getting Busy

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Fun for All Ages

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Lining Up for Food

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Squeezing Through the Crowds

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Crowds Starting to Gather

As the sun started going down and the crowds became overwhelming, we decided to find ourselves a pub to grab some dinner and a drink before heading back to Frankfurt. It was a quaint little place with signs from the 40’s and 50’s adorning the walls and ceiling. As with most places that we visited, the people were warm and welcoming, even with the language barriers. It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years to the day since we visited Hochheim. You can read about our initial thoughts about the Hochheim Market here.

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Red and White Gluhwein

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Wurst Anyone?

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Signs Everywhere in the Pub

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So Many Choices

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Banner in Town

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Had to Have Some Local Beer

 

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The Food of Carlsbad, California

Located on the coast of southern California, Carlsbad has a combination of food styles that makes it a great food destination. First of all, being on the coast, seafood is a staple at many of the restaurants and there are even some that have their own boats that provide fresh fish for the restaurant. Being in California, healthy food is certainly on most menus and there is definitely an emphasis on farm-to-table as well as ocean-to-table. Finally, with its close proximity to Mexico, there are definitely options for authentic Mexican fare as well. That doesn’t mean that you are limited to those choices as there are sushi restaurants, Italian choices, and certainly good old steak and potato places.

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Lobster and Corn Chowder

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Open Fire Cooking at the Campfire

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We Always Love Oysters

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Fresh Seafood

Since we live in Colorado, seafood was high on our list of things to eat while we were there and we certainly had our fill. With plenty of places to choose from, one of our favorites was the Bluewater Grill, which sourced their fish from their own boat and also offered fresh fish to be purchased to take home. They claimed to have an award winning clam chowder, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it and truly was delicious. Clearly that wasn’t the only seafood that we had as we enjoyed mussels at Jay’s Gourmet Seafood and Pizza, shrimp tacos and lobster and corn chowder at the Coyote Bar and Grill, and calamari at 264 Fresco.

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Seafood Skewers – Incredibly Delicious

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Lemon Pepper Mahi Mahi at the Bluewater Grill

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Clam Chowder

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Shrimp Taco

If you want Mexican food, Senior Chubby’s is certainly a favorite of the locals and features a salsa bar where you can get some really spicy salsa if you want. We also enjoyed the atmosphere and friendly staff at Las Olas where we enjoyed a couple of margaritas and a spicy cheese and bean dip. You don’t have to go to a Mexican restaurant to find Mexican choices as we even enjoyed delicious Huevos Rancheros at Dini’s Bistro, a place we went to a couple of times at sunset as they had great views of the ocean.

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Huevos Rancheros

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Spicy Cheese and Bean Dip with a Margarita

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Salsa Bar at Senior Chubby’s

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Calamari

Clearly there are too many choices for the time that we had, but we did our best to visit as many places as possible. Sometimes it was for a quick snack and a drink, other times it was for a full meal (shared of course). There were other times when we just stopped in for a glass of wine or beer at places like the Village Pub, a fun little outdoor place called Crackhead Crafty’s, and a unique place called Campfire. Since Carlsbad Village is so walkable, it easy to wonder around and just explore and find places that sound interesting to you. In addition to food and drinks, there were several places that offered live entertainment, even on weeknights, providing a great atmosphere for people to gather and relax.

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Craft Cocktails

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Firepits at the Coyote Bar and Grill

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Jumbo Mussels

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More Music

We certainly enjoyed the food that we ate while we were in Carlsbad and there didn’t seem to be any bad choices. Being on the ocean, most places provided casual dining, even if the food was upscale. Obviously you can find a formal restaurant if that is what you are looking for, but we enjoy casual, especially when visiting the beach. We will likely return to Carlsbad someday in the future and look forward to trying some new places as well as revisiting some of our favorites.

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Garlic Bread and Marinara

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Sign for the Village Pub

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264 Fresco Italian Styling

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Some Street Art in Carlsbad

 

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Getting the Job Done

For many reasons, we love to memorialize the inventions and tools that people have used to do their jobs throughout history. With all of today’s computing and machine power, seeing the tools of the past makes you realize how fortunate we truly are these days. We have seen displays of working conditions in a variety of countries and they are all very interesting. We have taken photographs of many of them and looking back at them, it is kind of fascinating that the pictures almost capture a sense of dreariness that must have truly existed at the time. In fact, some of them are almost downright creepy.

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Frozen Air and Spinning Wheels

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Pressing Papyrus

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Ancient English Workers

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Spinning Linen in India

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Pharmacy Desk in Old Town Alexandria

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Old Sewing Machines

 

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Historic Ottoman House in Cairo, Egypt

If you are looking for something of a hidden gem while visiting Cairo, then we would suggest putting Bayt Al-Suhaymi on your list of places to visit. On our final day in Cairo, we made a last minute decision to book an “Islamic Cairo” tour through our hotel and we were certainly not disappointed. We saw several ancient mosques, but just as interesting was wandering the narrow streets of the Old City of Cairo. Just wandering the streets is quite exhilarating, but the highlight was taking a tour of an Ottoman era house that was built in 1648 and is in excellent condition as it was refurbished in 1997 as part of restoration project for the entire area.

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The Streets of the Old City of Cairo

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Colorful Tiles and Plates

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Amazing Architecture in the Old City

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Chandelier in Bayt Al-Suhaymi

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Looking Down from a Window

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One of the Rooms in the House

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Standing in the Courtyard

To enter the Old City of Cairo, you go through the Conquest Gate (Bab el Fotouh), which is one of three remaining gates through the walls of the city. As we entered, we were joined by a tourism police officer to ensure our safety in the area, although we didn’t feel that it was particularly needed. We passed by several shops and restaurants on the busy streets with many children on their way home from school. Shortly we arrived at Bayt Al-Suhaymi or House of Suhaymi in order to tour the building that is one of the first Ottoman houses built in Cairo. At the center of the house there is a courtyard called a sahn that features a small garden and some trees. Looking over the courtyard is one of the many beautiful mashrabiya windows that we saw during our tour of the Old City of Cairo.

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Conquest Gate

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Old City Wall

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Just After Walking Through the Gate

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Shops in the Old City

 

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Our Escort

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Intricate Detail

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Showing Its Age

We were able to walk through many of the rooms as we worked our way up through the several floors of the building. Some of the rooms had traditional furniture still inside of them and there was even a sauna in the house that has a colorful ceiling with geometric designs. The house also featured an area in the back with a mill for grinding grain. The architecture is truly what is fascinating when you visit the house. From stained glass windows, many chandeliers, and colorful tile work, it is well worth visiting.

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Sitting in the House

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Colorful Ceiling

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Garden Area in the Back

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Mill

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Sink in the Sauna and Bathroom Area

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Dome Inside of the House

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Dramatic Chandelier

After leaving the Bayt Al-Suhaymi, we continued on to the Sultan Qalawun Complex, which features more amazing architecture. Afterwards, we wandered through the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, which can be quite crowded as locals and tourists flock to purchase crafts and items in stalls on the narrow streets. The sights, sounds, and aromas can be overwhelming, so take your time to fully absorb everything that you see around you. There are many tours that feature going to the bazaar, but we found the historic Ottoman home to be something very special that few people get to visit.

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Walking the Bazaar

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Overwhelming Sights

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So Much Architecture to See

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Protection from the Sun

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Dome in the Old City

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Beautiful Mosque

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Another Minuet

 

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Is It Okay to Recycle Blog Post Material?

We have had our site for a little over three years at this point and during that time we have obviously traveled as much as possible and shared stories from everyplace that we’ve visited. There are times when we’ve looked back at our early days of blogging and thought to ourselves that we could or should have told that particular story differently. Or we’ve looked at a post from our early days and thought to ourselves that we weren’t engaged with as many people back then and should we re-share that experience with a new audience. Sure, we could simply re-blog the old post, but that doesn’t seem the same as taking a new slant on an older post.

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Writing During a Flight

We have, at times, realized that there were specific things that we missed about a place that we previously wrote about and then shared that information, but not gone back and looked at our original post from a place and considered doing a fresh take on it. We have, over the years, posted over 700 posts on our site, so the likelihood of people stumbling over old posts is relatively low, but at the same time, we don’t want to have a bunch of redundant material on our site. We do see some older posts being found through search engines, but there are some that just never get viewed after their original posting.

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Flying Over the Grand Canyon on Our Recent Flight Home from California

Obviously we strive to always create new and interesting content for our site and want it always to feel informative and fresh. With that said, we don’t travel to new places every week, so we do have to find ways to create new information about places that we have already visited. We usually do that by going into greater detail about a specific site within a city that perhaps we only touched on briefly in our original post or creating a summary of information where we have broken up the information in multiple posts.

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On One of the First Trips After Starting Our Site

We have mixed feelings on the thought of recycling old material in a new way. And if we do ultimately decide to create a new post on something we’ve previously talked about, should we delete the old post? Whatever we decide, ultimately we want to make sure that we do it in a way that is stimulating and interesting and doesn’t feel like a repeat.

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Wine Tasting in Temecula, California

During our recent trip to Carlsbad, we took the opportunity to spend a day in Temecula touring four different vineyards and wineries. Making the trip from Carlsbad to Temecula provides evidence as to why this area has become an important region for growing successful wine varieties. As you leave the foggy coast, you pass through one of the only passes that allows the moisture to get from the ocean and takes it straight towards Temecula. There, the sun heats up and the temperatures rise about twenty degrees higher than on the coast allowing the air to remain low in humidity despite having received the moisture. The grapes are very happy there.

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Although After Harvest, We Saw a Few Grapes Next to a Winery

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Casks of Wine

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Fountain at Robert Renzoni Vineyard and Winery

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Grape Vines Across the Valley

The first of the wineries that we visited was that Robert Renzoni Vineyards. There we went on a walking tour of vineyard and learned more about the process of wine making while sipping on wine straight from the barrel. With a family that immigrated from Italy in 1914, the vineyard maintains strong ties to their Italian heritage. After the walking tour, we continued to a wine tasting with the option of tasting up to six wines per person and of course we tried as many as we could. We enjoyed the wine so much that we decided to join their wine club, picking one white and one red to be delivered the following week. Since we travel light, taking wine home on the plane was not an option since we just had carry-on bags.

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Tuscan Style Architecture at the Renzoni Vineyard

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Wine from the Barrel

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High Tech Wine Making

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Walking Through the Renzoni Vineyard

From there we continued on to the Cougar Vineyard and Winery where we enjoyed a light lunch that was of course accompanied with your choice of white or red wine. Lunch was served in the barrel room, which was comfortable, although slightly cool. Afterwards, we went to the tasting room where we again had the opportunity to enjoy several samples of wine that vineyard offered. It was a beautiful day and we stepped outside to enjoy the beautiful views of the area. In addition to selling wines, all of the vineyards also specialized in hosting weddings, so that should be taken into account if you decide to visit on a Saturday. It wasn’t an issue for us as we did our tour on a weekday.

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Entrance to the Cougar Winery

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Lunch in the Barrel Room

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The Cougar Vineyards

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Beautiful Scenery

Third on the list to visit was a Lorimar Vineyards and Winery, which was founded by a brother and brother-in-law and the vineyards name is a combination of their first names. It is another Tuscan style winery, which seems to be the theme in Temecula, and it has a gorgeous building that houses its tasting room. Once again we were able to taste up to six wines, all of which were delicious. At most of the wineries, in addition to the tasting room, there is most likely going to be a gift store offering everything wine related, much of it fun and whimsical.

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Another Beautiful Property at Lorimar Vineyard and Winery

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Walking the Grounds at Lorimar

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Grape Vines at Lorimar

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A Relaxing Time

Our final stop was at the Callaway Vineyard and Winery. If that name sounds familiar, it is because it was founded by the owner of the company of the same name that is famous for making golf equipment. From what our guide told us, we can probably thank Ely Callaway for bringing vineyards to the Temecula area in the late 1960’s. It was probably the largest and most industrial of the vineyards that we visited, but the views of the valley were amazing. As we continued to taste another half-dozen wines a piece, we decided to purchase a couple of bottles to take back to our resort to enjoy during the rest of our trip.

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Fountain and Sign at Callaway’s

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Industrial Feel

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Vineyards are Beautiful Even in Autumn

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Grape Vines at Lorimar

For anyone visiting the Carlsbad or San Diego area, we would highly recommend going on a wine tasting tour. We prefer to let someone else do the driving for us when going on such a tour as visiting several wineries will result in having a few glasses of wine. With so many wineries to choose from, you could probably go back several times and visit different vineyards and wineries on each visit. Also, if you want to stay in Temecula, the town has a growing tourism scene with plenty of places to stay, many restaurants, and even a casino if that suits your interests.

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Plenty of Fountains

 

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Vertical Roasted Chicken

One of our favorite meals this time of year is to have roasted chicken with roasted vegetables. Using a can to stand the chicken upright is a great way to get the chicken to roast evenly on all sides and the can helps the inside of the chicken cook more evenly as well. We used our tajine as the base to put all of the vegetables, allowing the drippings from the chicken to coat the vegetables, which makes them even more favorable. It is certainly the type of meal that can be found almost anywhere that you travel as there are so many different ways that chicken and vegetables can be roasted together. You can choose whatever type of root vegetables are in season, but be sure to keep them all about the same size.

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Vertical Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole Roasting Chicken
  • 10 small Red Potatoes
  • 14 Baby Carrots – multicolored
  • 12 Brussel Sprouts
  • 1/2 Red Onion – cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Dried Rosemary – roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 tsp Powdered Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
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Vegetables in the Tajine

INSTRUCTIONS

Coat the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, salt and pepper, and place them in the base to the tajine (or a shallow baking dish). Coat all sides of the chicken with the remaining olive oil, garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper. Place a can that is large enough to support the chicken, and that has been washed and dried, inside of the chicken cavity, placing the closed side of the can towards the top of the chicken. Put the can with the chicken in the center of the tajine, surrounding it with the vegetables. Place the chicken and vegetables into the lower rack of an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees and roast for 15 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with the roasted vegetables.

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Seasoned Chicken

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Finished Plate

 

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Carlsbad Village in California

If you are looking for a relaxing stay along the Pacific coast in California, then visiting Carlsbad might just be the perfect choice for you. Located about 30 miles north of San
Diego, Carlsbad is a resort town with many restaurants, public beaches, and a very walkable downtown area which is called Carlsbad Village. We spent close to a week there and enjoyed walking the beach, watching sunsets, and even went on a wine tasting tour. On Wednesday’s, the heart of the village shuts down to allow for a farmer’s market with a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, art work, and other local items for sale. We also happened to be there the weekend before Halloween and the local shops provide candy and a safe environment for families to go trick-or-treating.

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Beach Style Architecture

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Vineyards in Temecula

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Farmer’s Market

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One of the Sunsets

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European Style Architecture

Carlsbad Village is certainly charming with a variety of architecture from typical beach-style buildings to some old-world type buildings. There are many different shops offering boutique clothing, beach clothes, gift items, as well as unique artwork. There are as many restaurants as there are shops offering a variety of meal choices. Although you can certainly find any type of food that you might want, the majority of restaurants offered seafood, Mexican food, and Italian. We had some wonderful meals during our stay.

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Busy Beach on the Weekend

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Fresh Vegetables at the Farmer’s Market

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Another Sunset on the Beach

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Shopping Area

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Town Sign

Clearly the beach is the highlight of going to Carlsbad and if you are a surfer, you won’t be disappointed. It was a little too cool while we were there to swim in the ocean as the fog rolled in every morning and didn’t always burn completely off keeping the temperatures low. That didn’t keep us from walking along the beach though, watching the surfers, and making sure to catch some beautiful sunsets. Even in the off-season, the town got quite busy on the weekend as people from the surrounding areas come to take advantage of their beach properties.

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Surfers on the Beach

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Walking the Beach

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Not Too Busy During the Week

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Fresh Seafood at the Farmer’s Market

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Tropical Flower

We took a wine tour in Temecula where we visited four different wineries and tasted a wonderful variety of wines. Napa Valley certainly has the best known reputation for producing quality wines, but Temecula certainly has a right to be proud of their growing reputation. Not only do they have a lot of vineyards currently, the hillsides are being covered with new ones as the city has approved additional vineyards to be started. Although you can certainly drive yourself on a wine tour, it is best to let someone else do the driving. We tasted up to six types of wine at each vineyard, which even in small amounts is a lot of wine.

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Temecula has a Tuscan Feel

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Vineyard About a Month After Harvest

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Wine Casks

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Looking Up the Hillside

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New Vineyard in the Distance

Carlsbad Village is definitely an enjoyable destination with a relaxing atmosphere. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and all of the food and shopping make staying their a wonderful experience. There is also a train called the Coaster that will take you into San Diego if you want to spend some time their and go to Sea World, the world famous zoo, and other museums. Legoland is also a highlight of Carlsbad for those with children or just a child at heart.

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People Out for Halloween

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Kids and Candy

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Last Glimpse of the Sun

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More Architecture

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Just Another Day at the Beach

 

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Do You Want to Get Away?

Remember that airline slogan? That is definitely the feeling that we’ve been having lately and today we are finally getting that opportunity. We leave later today to start our trip to Carlsbad, California, which is a located about 30 miles north of San Diego. It will be our first time visiting this city on the coast and we are certainly looking forward to some relaxing days exploring what the area has to offer.

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Sitting on the Tarmac During a Previous Flight

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Looking Forward to the Beach

Sunsets on the beach will certainly be on our itinerary and we are looking forward to enjoying some fresh seafood as well. There is a railway system that runs between the coastal towns and San Diego, so getting into the city to see some of the sights there should be easy to do in addition to seeing Carlsbad. We look forward to sharing images from our trip while we are there, but forgive us if we aren’t consistent with our posts.

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Looking Forward to Walking on the Beach

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Looking Forward to a Pacific Ocean Sunset

 

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