Situated along the Rhine River where it connects with the Moselle, Koblenz is a wonderful city to visit, especially in the fall. One of our favorite memories from our time in Germany last year was taking the train along the Rhine and seeing all of the beautiful foliage. There are many different sites to visit in Koblenz, such as the fortress, the Basilica of St. Castor, Stolzenfels Castle, and the German Corner with its monument of William I on horseback. Regardless of sightseeing in Koblenz, we enjoyed simply walking along the river and enjoying the beautiful scenery. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is anything with the letter K. We hope that you enjoy a few images of our time in Koblenz as much as we enjoyed visiting it last October.
One of the first things that you are told when deciding to create a website or trying to get your writing published is that you must have a consistent and clear voice. That sounds a little nebulous, but all it really means is that if someone were to read several of the things that you have written, it would be clear to the reader that they were all written by the same person. It is partially about tone, such as whether you use slang or prefer to be more formal, but also things like whether you write in the first or third person.
Another part of your voice is that you keep a consistent style of writing when talking about traveling. Whether you provide historical facts, talk about the top spots to visit, detail your trip in chronological order, or give a daily rundown of your trip, people will begin to have an expectation of what your content will be like. There isn’t a right or wrong style of writing, it is just about your communication style, whatever fits your personality the best.
Our style of writing is conversational, telling our experiences about a place that we have visited as if we were all sitting together at our favorite watering hole. Obviously we want to give some insight into places to visit, but really we want to express our impressions and take people on a journey with us. What style of travel writing do you prefer?
On a clear day, Cotopaxi is an ominous sight that can be seen looming in the distance outside of Quito. It is an active volcano that last erupted in August of 2015 and spewed ash and steam until January of 2016. You are no longer able to hike all of the way to the top, but you can hike up to the refuge shelter that sits about half way up the side of the volcano. There are evacuation route signs throughout the park providing a sense of how seriously one should take the possible threat of a future eruption.
Upon entering the park, you pass through a forest that is owned by a local lumber mill that provides wood for making furniture and other items. The road quickly deteriorates as you move your way closer to the base of the mountain and you pass through fields with wild horses roaming in the grasslands. It was a cloudy, foggy day, as is often the case, during our visit to the Cotopaxi National Park. We did get a few glimpses of the peak, although most of the time is was shrouded by clouds.
The steep road, which was made up of deep sand and ash, continued to get more and more difficult to travel the closer we got towards the trailhead. At several spots the road was almost unpassable due to the deep, slippery, sand and then as we rounded a bend just short of the trailhead, our driver got stuck and was not able to make it up the steep slope. We were just one of several vehicles that were not able to make it up this stretch of road even though we were in an all-wheel drive vehicle. It is definitely important to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you want to make it to the trailhead. We could have hiked up to the trailhead and then continued to the shelter house, but decided that due to the cold conditions and high altitude that we would pass on this particular hike.
Our guide then took us to the Limpiopungo glacier lake, which was created centuries ago and is home to an abundance of waterfowl and other birds. We did a nice hike around the lake, enjoying views of the wetlands and the volcano on the horizon. It was cold and windy, but the hike was very pleasant anyway. Afterwards, we stopped at a small, family-owned restaurant to enjoy a nice hot lunch before returning to Quito in the afternoon.
Visiting Cotopaxi is a simple, hour and a half drive from Quito and is well worth the time to visit. There are so many volcanoes in Ecuador that are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and each is unique in their own way. If it is possible to go on a sunny day, you will be greeted with stunning views of the snow capped volcano.
Whether or not you believe that certain people have a sixth sense, we are firm believers that people should trust their gut feelings. There have been times in our lives when we have had a sense that something had occurred and found out that those were true. Sometimes it isn’t anything magical, it is just a matter of using a little common sense, life experience, and trusting your senses. If you are in a strange city and get off of the main streets at night and get the feeling that someone is watching you, it isn’t a stretch to think that something bad might happen to you and that you should turn around and try to get to a more populated area. Traveling puts you on edge as it is, so it isn’t uncommon to get that nagging feeling that something is going to go wrong. A flight will be delayed and you will miss your connection. The taxi driver isn’t taking you to where they are supposed to or they are purposely taking a longer route to run up the bill. These feelings aren’t a bad thing, they make you more aware of your surroundings, make you plan for unexpected changes, and will ultimately make you a more confident traveler.
When we were in the Amazon Jungle, there was definitely no telling what we would see every time we rounded the next bend of the river or trail. Obviously, we were with experienced guides, so that definitely gave us confidence. All the same, we knew that we could come across anaconda snakes, caiman, poisonous frogs, snakes, spiders, and other insects. This week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is things that start with the letter J and are at least six letters long. We have chosen photos from the Jungle from both our trip to Bolivia last year as well as our trip to Ecuador this year.
We were spending the weekend in Denver and had heard about a seafood restaurant that was celebrating “Oystoberfest” for the entire month of October. The Blue Island Oyster Bar in the Cherry Creek area of Denver has an excellent happy hour every day and a wonderful selection of fresh seafood. One of the things that we learned during our time in Frankfurt, Germany, is that cities have an airport that is a major hub, restaurants can get deliveries of fresh seafood on the same day that the fish are caught. Denver is no different as it is centrally located and can receive seafood from both coasts daily. Blue Island has partnered with Blue Island Shellfish Farms in New York to get their seasonal oysters and other seafood delivered as fresh as possible.
We have mentioned previously that we don’t typically eat a large meal, but eat a few small plates to try as many different foods as possible. Obviously we had to get oysters and they were so good that we ended up getting a second dozen before the night was over. The menu stated that their clam chowder was the “City’s Best Clam Chowder”, so we had to give that a try as well as some chilled shrimp. The clam chowder was nice and thick with a lot of clams and the flavor was wonderful. There were a lot of other choices on the menu and based on the food that we did try, we are sure that you couldn’t go wrong with anything that you might choose. Their prices were very reasonable, especially considering the quality of the food, and we would definitely recommend them to anyone visiting Denver and looking for fresh seafood.
Autumn is our favorite time of year to get into the mountains and go hiking. The weather can be cool and it is possible to get snow at times, but when the sun is shining and the leaves have turned golden, it is truly spectacular. We enjoy autumn everywhere and the different tapestry of colors that you find. Autumn in Colorado is a little unique from other places where the trees turn a dark gold, orange, and vibrant red. Those colors are beautiful and we definitely enjoy seeing them, but in Colorado, the Aspen trees turn a brilliant gold. When the sun hits the bright yellow leaves on a clear day, the trees almost seem to glow. So, for last week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, Glow, we have chosen some photos from Beaver Creek.
Food and beverage festivals can be a great way to sample a variety of specific foods from area restaurants and specialty stores. We have gone to many different ones in the past from barbeque festivals to a bacon and beer festival. Over the weekend, we went to Denver and participated in the Bloody Mary Festival, which included 15 different types of Bloody Mary samples as well as a variety of food and other stands selling goods and handing out free samples. We always enjoy a good Bloody Mary, so we were excited to see all of the creative drinks as well as toppings that were going to be offered.
One thing that we learned relatively quickly is that sometimes people can get too creative with their ingredients. A popular ingredient seemed to be pickle juice or pickling spices, which can be fine in moderation, but these were a little over the top. Another that we tried had fish sauce in it, which we didn’t care for, but perhaps that is just our taste preference. You could get a green Bloody Mary with orange and pineapple or one that was made with beer. It was good that almost every stand had a list of ingredients so that you knew what you were about to drink before giving it a taste.
In the end, when it came time for us to vote, we ended up selecting a more traditional style of Bloody Mary. Our favorites were from the Highland Tavern and Tupelo Honey. We like ours a little spicy, but found the more exotic recipes to be a little too much for us. Although you could drink as much as you like, we just took a few sips of each one, just enough to get a true sense of the flavor. After a while, even if you like a good Bloody Mary, the acid from the tomatoes can start to get to you. We will continue to keep our eyes open for any upcoming festivals that seem unique and interesting.
We have stayed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, several times with varied experiences. The hotel was built in 1909 by the inventor of the Stanley Steamer, Freelan Stanley, and has had many famous guests throughout its history. The hotel is located just five miles from the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, making it a great location to stay when wanting to spend a few days hiking in park. With its bright white exterior and red roof, the hotel stands out against the mountains that sit behind it.
One of the Stanley’s most famous guests was Stephen King who stayed there in 1974 and was inspired to write The Shining after his experiences there. Although he called the hotel the Overlook Hotel in his book and added several embellishments, there are many features that are the same as what he described. The Stanley Hotel was also the set of the 1997 miniseries of The Shining.
On our very first visit to the Stanley Hotel in 1998, we arrived early at about 10:00 am because we wanted to get out and get into the mountains. We didn’t expect to be able to get into our room, but we were told that the room was ready and we were also told that we were able to stay in the same suite that Stephen King stayed in during his stay. Apparently people often request that room and actually being able to stay in that room is a rarity. We went to our room to unpack and change to go hiking and shortly after entering the room, the radio alarm clock went off. Obviously the previous guest must have set the alarm and not turned it off, so we walked over the clock to turn it off, but the alarm was not set. It wouldn’t turn off, so we went to unplug it from the wall, but it was not plugged in. We looked for a place for batteries, but there wasn’t any. A few seconds later, the radio stopped playing. It was truly creepy.
We weren’t aware at the time that the hotel had quite the reputation for being haunted and we weren’t there for any other reason other than it was a nice hotel with a good location. A few years later, the show Ghost Hunters filmed an episode there and the fame its ghostly reputation soared. On our last visit to the hotel in 2012, we were somewhat disappointed because what was a quiet, quaint, hotel, had become a tourist spot where you could book rooms based upon which ones you were more likely to see a spirit. There are also tours of the hotel going every fifteen minutes during the day and people wander the grounds as they wait for their tour. At night, we saw people setting up cameras trying to capture their own ghostly image and people wander the halls hoping to get a glimpse of spirit.
We don’t doubt that the hotel is truly haunted, especially based upon our experience so many years ago, but didn’t care for the atmosphere of all of the ghost chasers. They even showed the 1980 movie of The Shining, which wasn’t filmed there, 24/7 in the hotel rooms. We did happen to go by the suite we stayed in during our original visit while there was a tour group outside of it because it is one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. Apparently there was a fire in the room that killed a maid many years ago and she is reported to still haunt the room. Was she upset that we checked in early and didn’t think that the room was ready? We’ll never know. Have you ever had your own ghostly encounter?
We very much enjoy seeing cityscapes, landscapes, enormous churches, bridges, and other substantial views during our travels. These sights can be breathtaking and are definitely the highlights of many of our trips. Sometimes, though, seeing some of the smaller details is just as memorable. Whether seeing the details in artwork, architecture, or focusing on a single flower, there is a lot of beauty that is on a smaller scale. We can look back at any of our travels and point to times where we saw and captured photos of intricate details that bring back fond memories of the place that we were visiting. Our trip to Iceland was definitely a trip with substantial landscapes with volcanoes, glaciers, lava covered beaches, huge geysers, and other amazing scenery. In addition to those grand sights, there were trickling streams, frozen pools, bubbling hot springs, and smaller lava features that were just as fascinating. For this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, things that start with the letter I, we have chosen a few photos from Iceland that focus on some of the smaller details.
We love duck, but it isn’t the easiest thing to prepare and have it turn out to be moist and tender. After doing some research, we found that either simmering or steaming the duck, prior to roasting it, renders out the fat and produces a moist duck with crispy skin. We decided to go with an Asian influenced recipe and the flavor couldn’t have been more delicious. It took a little work, but really wasn’t too difficult and well worth the effort. We adapted our recipe from one that we found from Tyler Florence, which called for the duck to be steamed and, based on the results, we’ll use this method every time going forward. This recipe turned out to be extremely tasty and one that we hope that you’ll enjoy.
- 1 Whole Duck (5 – 5 1/2 lbs)
- 1 tbsp Chinese Five-Spice Powder
- 2 tsp Granulated Sugar
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