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Exploring the Culture of St. Petersburg

Bridge St.Petersburg Russia

A City With Many Influences

To appreciate St. Petersburg, it helps to familiarize yourself with the variety of cultural influences that have impacted the city over the centuries.
Soviet Architecture – As with anywhere in Russia, you’ll see vestiges of the communist era, when the name of the city was changed to Leningrad (it was changed back to its original name in 1991). One of the most prominent symbols of this period are the many statues of Vladimir Lenin around the city. One of the most famous of these is at Finland Station.
German Settlement on Vasilevsky Island – Germans played a large role in the early days of St. Petersburg, with numerous people emigrating from Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the largest settlements was on Vasilevsky Island where you can visit the Zoology Museum and the Academy of Sciences.
French in St. Petersburg – French culture also had a huge impact on the city’s culture. As novelists such as Tolstoy chronicled, Russian aristocrats often spoke French as a second language. While the French influence has declined considerably since the Imperial Era, there are still remnants of French Culture in St. Petersburg in the arts and architecture of the city. For example, there’s a substantial collection of French art at the Hermitage Museum.
The confluence of cultural influences has produced a city that’s at once Russian and European. The unique ambiance and mixture of old and new make it an unmatchable place to explore the arts, literature, and history.

Explore the Metro

One of the best ways to experience St. Petersburg is to travel by metro. The St. Petersburg Metro is one of the most beautiful in the world. Each station is like a room in a museum, with a variety of architectural styles, ornate decorations, and extensive historical information. In a city as large as St. Petersburg, the Metro is often an efficient way to get around. It’s also a prime example of the city’s artistic style.

Take a Literary Tour

Many of the great Russian novels of the 19th century, such as Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, are set in this great city. There are, of course, many more recent books set here as well. One of the best ways to get yourself in the right frame of mind for your journey is to read (or reread) some great books set in the city.
Volkovskoe Cemetery -This famous cemetery has a special section reserved for famous writers and other celebrities.
Literature Museum in the Pushkin House – This museum is devoted primarily to the writer Alexander Pushkin but also has artifacts and exhibits dedicated to other Russian authors.
Nabokov Museum – This museum is located at the birthplace of modern Russian author Vladimir Nabokov.
More literary destinations – You can also do your self-guided tour and follow in the footsteps of your favorite Russian literary characters or visit the sites of authors’ homes. For inspiration, Russia Beyond publishes a map of 10 Key Places from St. Petersburg’s Literary Map.

Museums and Historic Buildings

Here are a few of the great museums not to miss when in St. Petersburg.
The Hermitage Museum – Created by Catherine the Great in 1764, this is one of the iconic attractions of St. Petersburg. In addition to having a great art collection, it also houses the Winter Palace, where the Tsars of Russia lived. It is one of the world’s oldest, largest and most comprehensive museums, where you’ll find exhibits covering art from classical to modern times.
State Russian Museum – This is another very large museum that is dedicated to Russian art. It includes several buildings including the Mikhailovsky Palace, the Marble Palace, the Stroganov Palace, and the Benois Wing. Some of the most crowded exhibits are those dedicated to popular Russian artists such as Kandinsky and Malevich.
Peterhof Palace and Gardens – Peterhof Palace is about half an hour out of the city but it is a day trip well worth taking. The summer palace of Peter the Great, this impressive structure was inspired by Versailles in France. The grounds contain numerous beautiful gardens, paths, sculptures, and fountains. There are also great views of the Baltic Sea. You should have at least a few hours to stroll the gardens at a leisurely pace.
Mariinsky Theater – This is the place to come for a traditional St. Petersburg experience of theater, ballet, or opera. Open in 1860, many of Russia’s top plays and concerts have been performed here. The building itself is a work of art on both the inside and outside with its neoclassical design and huge stage and auditorium. It’s best to buy your tickets as far in advance as possible (you can order them online) as performances are often sold out.
Fabergé Museum – This is one of the world’s greatest museums devoted to decorative arts. It’s located in the beautiful Shuvalov Palace, which is itself a work of art. Among many other holdings, the museum has the world’s largest collection of Fabergé eggs. This is a great place to get a feel for the wealth and opulence of 19th century St. Petersburg.

Churches

St. Petersburg has some of the world’s most beautiful churches. While the Russian Orthodox Church was an offshoot of the Greek Byzantine Church, the architectural styles of St. Petersburg churches are quite distinct from those you’d find in Orthodox churches in Greece or Turkey, with a variety of influences.
Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood – One of Russia’s most ornate churches, but not one of the oldest, having been built in the early 20th century on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. The church was closed during the Soviet era and converted into a museum. Aside from the remarkable architecture, you can spend hours appreciating the incredible mosaics.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral – The largest Orthodox cathedral in the world, Saint Isaac’s is officially a museum rather than a church. However, services are still held here on major holidays. The church is beautifully decorated with paintings, an ornate stained glass window portraying Resurrected Christ, and mosaic icons. You can get spectacular views of the city if you climb to the top.
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul – St. Petersburg’s oldest cathedral, consecrated in 1704, shortly after the founding of the city. The architecture of the church reflects the eclectic influences apparent throughout St. Petersburg. The overall style is Baroque, with elements borrowed from Dutch Protestant churches. One of the highlights of any visit to the cathedral is the Bell Tower. If you climb to the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the city. The fortress walls are also quite impressive.

Experience the Vibrant Culture of St. Petersburg

We’ve covered some of the ways to experience the unique and diverse culture of St. Petersburg. Few cities have aesthetic values built into so much of everyday life, from the buildings and squares to the Metro. You can spend many days or weeks exploring this large and multifaceted city. While you can visit St. Petersburg as part of a wider tour of Russia, make sure you leave yourself enough time to take in some of its unrivaled charms.

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Exploring Alternative Moscow: Three Underrated Gems

Wandering Red Square is only the start to an unforgettable trip to Moscow. From underground military bunkers converted to medieval monasteries and stunning fortresses seemingly from fairytales, Moscow has plenty to see beyond the main tourist hubs.

Bunker 42

About 200 feet beneath the Taganskaya metro station, a secret site provides a unique window into Moscow’s Cold War past. Bunker 42, formerly a top-secret military bunker, takes visitors back in time. Bunker 42 is now a converted museum run by hosts wearing KGB uniforms and guests inspecting a world hidden from the public for decades.
Bunker 42 is not your typical museum, however. A flood of modern touches makes Bunker 42 a happening place for locals and visitors alike. In the space transformed into a restaurant and night club, guests come for traditional Russian cuisine and stay for a night of karaoke and live entertainment. There are also multipurpose conference rooms and banquet halls that are regularly rented out for weddings and special occasions.
Combining Moscow’s recent history and a spread of recreational activities, Bunker 42 stands as one of the most interesting and overlooked spots in the city.

Izmailovo Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin is certainly worthy of its fame and status. About half an hour from central Moscow, however, the Izmailovo District is flush with spectacular scenery and Russian history. At the heart of the district, recently built kremlin surrounds the lush green landscape overlooking the Serebryano-Vinogradny Pond. This creates a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city.
Drawing visual inspiration from various Russian fairytales, the white-walled Izmailovo Kremlin was completed in 2007, though the village of Izmailovo goes back to medieval times. Inside the complex, an open-air market has been around in one form or another since the 1600s. Today, visitors at the market can find items from both Old Russia and the modern country. The mostly white kremlin also serves as a visual counterpoint to the vivid splashes of color of the Red Square.
You can also peruse a series of museums within the district, including the Museum of History of Vodka, where more than 1,000 different flavors of Russia’s famous liquor are typically on display. You may even find your way to museums featuring the history of Russian chocolate or folk toys.
Nearby, the Izmailovo Park offers plenty of activities as well, from riding in a horse-drawn sleigh to two Ferris wheels that provide excellent views of the neighboring countryside. In the winter, you can expect to find plenty of locals sharpening their ice skates to zip across the pond beneath the tall towers of the kremlin. Across from the kremlin lies a beautiful chateau formerly inhabited by Russian icon Peter the Great and generations of royalty. It’s not only a trip into the past at Izmailovo, however. The neighboring Izmailovo Hotel has been one of the biggest hotel complexes in the world since it was built for the 1980 Summer Olympics and is an attraction in its own right.

Gorky Park

Gorky Park is a stunning site that is a must-see while in Moscow. A favorite public gathering space for nearly a century, Gorky Park traces its roots to the 18th century, when it was an imperial estate that held the now-famous Neskuchniy Garden. By the 1920s, the rich lands along the Moskva (Moscow) River were transformed into a huge park that would become a prototype for other parks all over Russia.
The park underwent substantial renovation less than a decade ago and now has two distinct portions, including a section with family-friendly amusement rides and the area that includes the Neskuchniy and Golitsynskiy gardens. In the spring, colorful flower fields fill in the background for a park that now has too many activities to count. There is plenty of boating, sunbathing, yoga, and horse riding in the summertime. Open-air ice skating under the lights in the enormous rink make Gorky Park a hot spot year-round. In warmer months, the beach area of the park’s riverbank also converts into an outdoor night club.
Just across from the park, visitors can also find the Fallen Monument Park, a collaboration of different Soviet statues and monuments that were moved there in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the neighboring Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is an excellent stop for art aficionados, as is the outdoor movie theater built on the roof of the museum. With many spots of cultural interest and a top-notch entertainment scene, Gorky Park is worthy of multiple stops during any trip to Moscow.

Other Spots Worth Checking Out

Golosov Ravine

Steeped in mysterious tales and stunning natural surroundings, Golosov Ravine is the perfect place to recharge your batteries while still absorbing interesting tidbits of Russian history and culture. Complete with a soothing brook, rolling green hillsides, and recently created pedestrian pathways, Golosov Ravine is only a 25-minute drive south of central Moscow and is a great spot for a hike. The area has also been the subject of plenty of local superstitions, myths, and legends.

Novodevichy Convent

There is no shortage of cathedrals and churches throughout Moscow, but the simple elegance of Novodevichy Convent is hard to surpass. Loosely falling under the parameters of the Moscow Baroque style, the series of buildings appeared in stages during the 16th and 17th centuries. The complex stands today as a stunning testament to Moscow’s medieval roots. Initially both a fortress and a nunnery, the convent has a range of majestic buildings worth exploring and boasts a beautiful perch along the river.
Though the mainstays of Moscow’s historic district are undoubtedly worth seeing, there are plenty of other things to do to keep you busy on a trip to the Russian capital. Countless historical sites, quirky spots, and excellent scenery make Moscow the perfect getaway.

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Enjoy Mouthwatering Cuisine in Croatia

Feast Through Croatia

While the country as a whole boasts food that will leave you wanting to lick your plate, each region has its own unique tastes and traditions. Despite what region you decide to visit, the Croatian food will not leave you disappointed, the only thing to decide is where to begin.

Try a Taste of Italy in Istria

In northern Croatia lies the heart-shaped peninsula of Istria. The region runs down the northwestern coast of Croatia but also includes parts of Italy and Slovenia. Istria has become a booming culinary hotspot recently, leaving many to proclaim Istria to be similar to Venice but at half the price. This region is best known for its wine and olive oil, the latter prized as the best in the world. The rolling hilltops and the endless sun provide the perfect environment to create intense flavor profiles. Because of its proximity to Venice, you will find many Italian influences. Manestra is a popular bean soup, similar to Italian Minestrone. Pasta and gnocchi are also prominent on many menus as well as a plentiful selection of fresh vegetables.
Like most of Croatia, Istria has a rich selection of flavorful seafood. Octopus salad is a favorite among visitors and locals and a delicious showcase of what the area has to offer. The dish is traditionally prepared with fresh octopus, onions, and herbs and will often include potatoes. A dressing of fresh lemon juice or vinegar adds acidity and perfectly balances the flavors of the salad.
It’s hard to visit Istria without discovering truffles. These pungent mushrooms are in appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Harvested only a few months of the year, you can’t leave without tasting this delicacy. Try this treat shaved over fresh Adriatic fish or frozen in a bowl of black truffle ice cream.
If you are visiting in the fall, be sure to catch the Zigante Truffle Days International Gourmet Expo and don’t forget to visit Zigante Tartufi. The expo’s host offers a variety of dishes throughout the year with the rare white truffle featured in the fall.

Enjoy the Bounties of the Sea in Dalmatia

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Squid Ink Risotto

When it comes to great Croatian food, traveling south is the place to go. In the south you will find the Dalmatian region. Dubrovnik is a seaport village located in the Dalmatian region in Southern Croatia. It is one of Croatia’s top tourist stops and once again a great place to find amazing seafood. While you really can’t go wrong with any seafood offering, the Crni Rizot is the dish you can’t leave Croatia without trying. The first thing you will notice about the dish is its bold, black color. Crni Rizot, also known as squid ink risotto is a creamy rice dish consisting of Arborio rice, squid ink, and typically squid or cuttlefish. The squid ink is what gives this tasty entrée its unique appearance.
The strong flavors of the risotto are best balanced with a nice red wine. The Dingac wine offers an excellent pairing and has deep roots in the region. Just be warned, because of the growing conditions, this wine can have a considerably high alcohol content.
At the north end of Dalmatia sits the island of Pag. This island is known for its salty sheep’s head cheese. The sheep of this island graze on rosemary and other herbs showered with salt deposits from the sea, hence the distinct salty flavor. There is such a salty influence on the island, that you will find a taste of it in many of the local foods. Just south of Pag lies the city of Zadar. Visit Lungo Mare for dinner on the Maestral Bay and enjoy what Alfred Hitchcock revered as the most beautiful sunset in the world.

Other coastal Croatian food specialties include:

Pršut i sir: Simply ham and cheese. The pork leg is salt-dried, seasoned, and air-cured for 12-18 months.
Mali Ston oysters: The town of Mali Ston is about an hour north of Dubrovnik, and their oysters are to die for.
Ispod Peke: Translated to “under the bell,” Ispod peke is a method of cooking in which meats and potatoes are slow-cooked under a terracotta lid, typically over coals.

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Octopus Peke

Meats and Traditional Flavors Provide a Hearty Feast Inland

Travel inland, and you will see a shift in Croatian food with recipes including more tastes from Turkey, Austria, and Hungary. The taste of punjene paprike will transport you to Hungary with the bold flavors of this dish. Fresh bell peppers are stuffed with mincemeat and rice and topped with a savory paprika-infused sauce. Sarma is another staple in Croatia. Though resembling traditional cabbage rolls, your nose (and your mouth) will detect a distinct difference — the cabbage is pickled.
Where coastal Croatia is known for its pršut, continental Croatia brings Kulen, a full-flavored sausage packed with intense spices and given a bold red appearance thanks to the generous infusion of paprika.
Visit the capital city of Zagreb, and you will be greeted by numerous outdoor marketplaces, with the most visited being the Dolac. Here you will find an endless selection of fresh local produce, dairy, meats, and bread. Visit with the locals and discover some of the freshest ingredients.
Zagreb is also the best place to try zagrebački odrezak, a veal schnitzel filled with melted cheese and ham. Try it at Pri Zvoncu.

Finish with Dessert

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Croatian Fritule

No visit to a new country is complete without sampling the desserts of the region, and Croatia has plenty to offer. Whether you are on the pebble beaches of Istria or dining in Krapina, your sweet tooth will have a cornucopia of options. The fritule is the Croatian version of a doughnut. This doughy treat, found on almost every table in Croatia during Christmas, is not often served at restaurants but can be found at local street stalls.
If you are looking for a decadent dessert, Rožata will delight. A Croatian custard, the dessert is infused with a Dubrovnik rose liqueur, giving it a sweet scent. Although it gets its name from the Dubrovnik region, Rožata is common in many restaurants throughout Croatia.
There is certainly no lack of diversity or flavor in Croatia’s food. Whether you are a seafood lover or enjoy a hearty meal of meat and potatoes, the options are limitless in this beauty by the sea.

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Take a Danube River Cruise to Picturesque Romania

If you’ve been looking for a way to kick back and enjoy a vacation without all the usual hustle and bustle of shopping, tourist attractions, and bouncing from hotel to hotel, then a river cruise is exactly what the doctor ordered. On a floating mini-resort, you can enjoy all the luxuries of hotel life and the delights of a cruise without ever leaving the shore far behind.
Ready for a magical river cruise? Consider floating down the legendary Danube river. No matter where you start, the beautiful river flows eternally toward the Black sea and your tour is likely to end in the Danube Delta. Here, you’ll find a combination of islands and complex aquatic ecosystems that make Romania the ideal place to end your river tour. In the shadows of the Caucus mountains, you’ll enjoy fine dining, cozy hotels, pastoral vistas, and a rich history.
No matter what you’re looking for, from ancient stories to relaxing spas, you’ll find it at the end of the Danube River in beautiful Romania.

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Danube River in Germany

The Delta is Alive and Ancient

The Danube is one of the oldest rivers in the world. Traveling down it, you are likely to encounter signs both of ancient civilizations and timeless nature. When you reach the Delta, expect to see a strange collection of landmarks. While much of it will be decorated with the familiar reeds and tall river grasses, there will also be several stretches of sand dunes, often surrounded by natural growths of beautiful white lilies. Where there are trees, keep an eye out for the thousand-year-old oaks, most of them more than 90 feet tall. Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the river and the surrounding areas.
Swimming in the Delta, you’ll see incredibly numerous and diverse populations of fish as fresh and salt water mix to form a complex and rich aquatic ecosystem. One of the things the delta is known for is its huge (and delicious) sturgeon population. These sturgeon provide caviar and delicious fish-based entrees to numerous local restaurants. If sampling local caviar is something you indulge in on your water-side vacations, you won’t be disappointed.

All the Castles You Can Climb

Romania is an ancient land and has been building beautiful stone architecture for a very long time. There are elegant castles and estates still in use and open for tours. Additionally, there are dozens of ruins around the countryside that have since become historical relics. If you want to explore the legendary castle of the real-life Count Dracula, or Vlad Tepes the Transylvanian war hero, be sure to check out Bran Castle. This beautiful monument of white stone and red roofs are built directly into the surrounding mountain stone. But Romania holds more stories and secrets than Bram Stoker ever dreamed of, so don’t limit yourself to this tourist hot spot.
After your Danube cruise, branch out and explore the variety of impressively fortified churches, impenetrable fortresses, and sweeping gothic castles. The wealth of Romania’s history is available to explore in the form of ruins, castles, and more. Look out for local tours and delight in the ghost stories of the region as you imagine the elegant medieval lives that must have taken place there. Whether you love palaces or ruins, Romania has a wonderful tour that will delight the historian in you.

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Romania

Walking Tours of Picturesque Cities

There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beautiful sights and quaint charm of authentic Romania. With a low crime rate and a strong belief in local hospitality, you will find comfort walking around picturesque Romania. With brightly painted homes, flowers in the street, and plenty of local shops, you can quickly immerse yourself in the culture and positive attitude of the Romanian locals. Take a walk along the Danube or go on a walking tour.
Walking tours allow you to leave behind the pressure of finding a rental car or worrying about tourist taxi prices. Instead, pack a good pair of walking shoes and your GPS app and simply take off in a promising-looking direction. Get adventurous and stop in local cafes to try unfamiliar dishes when you get hungry. And don’t be shy about interacting with vendors on the street. You’ll find vendors selling handicrafts and tasty warm snacks, among other typical Romanian items.
Romania is safe enough savvy travel tactics and situational awareness is enough to keep you out of trouble. Even so, you should still be cautious of the usual sprinkling of pick-pockets and scam artists.

Try the Local Cuisine

Something unique about Romania is that it’s not quite like other European countries, which you can tell from the food. Romanians have a strong preference for things served with sour cream, local cheese, pickles and various forms of cabbage. But don’t let this list throw you off. The Romanians know what they’re doing and the local cuisine is absolutely delicious. Traditional dishes include Sarmale (sort of like egg rolls but with cabbage), Michi (long meatballs); and a mix of fried porks and thick bacon dishes. For dessert and sweet snacks there are Papanasi, which every restaurant does differently. Cozonac, which is a delightful form of walnut sweet bread, and “Placinta cu Branza Dulce si Sstafide” which translates to fried sweet-cheese pie with raisins. It is often served warm and sprinkled with sugar.
Taking a river cruise down the Danube is a delightful way to start a vacation and give you the opportunity to end it in beautiful, historic Romania. From tasty treats on street vendor carts to legendary castles, you can find anything you’re looking for.

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Destination Guide to Italy

Italy is a European country sitting on the Mediterranean Sea that has left deep impressions on the Western world, especially with its cuisine. Italy is home to many tourist destinations and landmarks including the capital city of Rome, the Vatican, and other major tourist cities such as Florence, Venice, and Milan. These cities combined attract about 48.6 million as of 2014, and the number of visitors increase each year.

Highlights of Italy

Tourists visiting Italy can also enjoy seeing masterpieces like Michelangelo’s “David” and Brunelleschi’s “Duomo.” Italy is also home to many historical museums which display pieces from as far back to the days of the Roman Empire when Italy was a global force in economics, culture, politics, and military strength. The same still holds true today as Italy is a powerful, affluent country whose citizens continue to enjoy a high standard of living.
Italy is home to plenty of other great works from great artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Titan, Raphael, and Botticelli. Most of these art museums and exhibits are located in Florence, the home of the Renaissance. The Renaissance movement swept throughout Europe during the late part of the Middle Ages and ended up expanding from Italy to Northern Europe, France, and England rapidly after the revolutionary ideas took root in Italy. The Renaissance brought a new mindset to Italy as it was characterized by another surge of classical scholarship and values.
Florence was also home to many of the prevalent artists of that time. These artists were able to create more realistic looking art than the artists of the Medieval period. Italy is a world-class destination for anyone with an appreciation of art who wants to see what has shaped the world of art today.

Destination Geography

Italy is a country located in southern Europe and shares a large majority of its coastline with the Mediterranean Sea. Italy is close to several other bodies of water including the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea as well as many lakes including Lake Como, Lake Orta, and Lake Iseo.
Besides being home to many bodies of water, by which many beautiful resorts were constructed, Italy is also home to many beautiful mountain ranges. Some of the more well-known mountain ranges include the Apennine Mountains, Mount Edna, the Dolomites, and Stromboli to name a few. The contrast between the sea and lakes and the stunning mountain ranges makes Italy a breathtaking sight to behold for tourists from around the world.
The Italian Peninsula is a boot shape that we have come to associate with the country. Several seas surround the peninsula including the Ligurian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Adriatic Sea. There are several islands near the peninsula that are a part of Italy including Lampedusa and Sicily. Many of these islands also have historical sites dating back to ancient times that attract many tourists as well.

The Best Times To Visit

The weather in Italy can reach some extremes during the winter and summer, so most people prefer to visit in the more moderate seasons of either spring or fall. Whenever you decide to visit, be sure to take along plenty of appropriate clothing. In the wintertime, you will want a hat and scarf as well as boots, gloves, and a warm coat. In the summer, be sure to bring plenty of cool clothes that can withstand the heat while you spend your days exploring and don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen.

What To Know Before You Go

Cover Up In Religious Institutions

Out of respect, ladies will need to cover their shoulders and legs when entering some ancient religious sites and even some modern facilities. Be sure to bring along clothing to cover up when asked.

Most Places Accept Cards

Most tourist attractions throughout Italy will accept credit/debit card payments. But still, keep some cash on hand for those places that may not accept cards.

Food

Give some of the delicious cuisines throughout Italy a try. Gelato comes in many flavors, and some of Italy favorites include le creme, hazelnut, lemon, strawberry, and coffee.

Weather

Italy can have frigid winters and sweltering summers, making spring and fall the most pleasant seasons. The wettest months in Italy are from September to January and summers are the driest time. Italy never gets a ton of precipitation, however, November is the “wettest” month with only 4.7 inches of precipitation being the “average.” In July, only about 0.9 inches of precipitation is the norm.

Language Barrier

People at most tourist locations will speak ample English, as well as fluent Italian. Learning some basic Italian phrases such as the following before your trip will help you communicate with more natives and locals:
Buongiorno = Hello/Good Morning
Arrivederci = Goodbye
Per Favor = Please
Grazie = Thank You
Come Sta? = How are you?
Bene, Grazie = Fine, thank you!
Come Ti Chiama? = What Is Your Name?
Mi Chiamo = My Name Is…
Even these basic phrases will help you communicate as a tourist, especially with those who may not be in the tourist industry and may not be as fluent in English as you are as a tourist. That basic communication can aid you throughout your trip and make your experience interacting with the locals much more authentic.

Electricity Standards

Italy’s standard voltage is 230 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. You will need a converter that converts the typical US 100-120 V of electricity into a 200-240 V over in Italy (and most of Europe). Plan accordingly to ensure that you are able to charge your electronics so you can use them throughout your trip.

Currency

The currency in Italy is the Euro as most other countries today.
Italy is the perfect destination for any traveler looking to eat great food, learn about ancient history and enjoy the Mediterranean coast. When you come to Italy, try some authentic Italian gelato, pasta or lasagna. Enjoy beautiful islands by the sea, learn about the history of ancient ruins and landmarks throughout the country and see all Italy has to offer.

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Top 8 Summer Music Festivals in the World

A music festival is a timeless way to see new places, spend time with your favorite people, and hear some great live music. A good festival, of course, is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a chaotic meshing of sounds, socializing, food, unique fashion statements, creative art forms, and merchandise. Ever since Woodstock, music festivals have become a rite of passage for young people and, increasingly, people of all ages. Best of all, there are amazing festivals in all corners of the globe. Let’s look at some of the top summer music festivals in the world.

1. Lollapalooza

Grant Park, Chicago, USA

Right in the heart of downtown, Chicago, Lollapalooza is an amazing festival that’s been running since 1991. It features eight stages and more than 170 bands, covering a wide range of styles. A festival in an urban setting can either be a perk or a drawback, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, you don’t have to drive into the wilderness and set up your campsite. You have all the city amenities within walking distance. Chicago is famous for its great food (especially pizza), bars, museums, and impressive skyline. On the other hand, escaping civilization is one of the features that draws you to festivals, you have plenty of other choices.
In addition to music, Lollapalooza has a mini-festival for kids, an art market, and plenty of merch. You can buy 4-day tickets for the entire festival or single-day tickets. There are also hotel packages. Children under 10 with an adult are admitted free (up to two kids per adult).

2. FYF Fest

Los Angeles, CA, USA

This annual 3-day festival is held at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. FYF Fest has been popular on the West Coast since 2004 and is known for its edgy atmosphere and diverse selection of music, including pop, rock, rap, electronic, hip-hop, and indie. It’s a good festival choice for those with eclectic tastes.

3. Tomorrowland

Boom, Belgium

Tomorrowland is a two-weekend festival that combines electronic music and the arts with a vision for a more peaceful and environmentally sustainable future. This festival began in 2005 and attracts an enthusiastic audience from all over the world. In some ways reminiscent of Burning Man in the U.S., Tomorrowland is full of futuristic visions, art installations, and its own “city,” DreamVille.
There are several options for accommodations, from As with most festivals, there are many tiers for ticket prices, depending on when you buy tickets, what you want to experience, and how long you stay. There are quite a few creative options, at various prices for lodging, including simple tents, tiny home-like structures to luxury “mansions.”

4. Hideout

Zrce Beach, Croatia

Hideout is a good choice if you want to get an early start to celebrating the summer. Set in a remote and pristine location on the Adriatic Sea with a view of mountains, this festival is famous for its boat rides, beach parties, and a wide selection of electronic music. As the name suggests, Hideout is a place where you can escape the everyday rut and experience an idyllic world for a few days.
This is also a great festival for adventurous travelers who enjoy water sports such as jet skiing, boating, and quad biking. Festival goers have a chance to island hop and explore beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park.

5. Electric Zoo

 New York City, USA

Electric Zoo is an end-of-summer Labor Day festival held at Randall’s Island Park, a 480-acre urban park on the border of Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx. Established in 2009, Electric Zoo has been held all over the world. The original location, however, is New York. The 2018 theme is The 6th Boro, which reveals the ambitious attempt to make the festival a permanent part of the New York City (which has five official boroughs or counties) cultural scene.
Their past lineup included DJ Snake, Above & Beyond, Galantis, and Sasha & John Digweed. Check the website for early bird tickets.

6. Wireless Festival

London, UK

If you want to visit London this summer, you may want to schedule your trip to coincide with this festival, held at Finsbury Park. Now in its 13th year, Wireless has become one of the most popular music festivals in the UK. Since Wireless is an urban festival, you have to find your own accommodations. London, however, is an easy city to navigate. If you don’t want to spring for a costly hotel, there are plenty of hostels and reasonable Airbnb options.

7. Arise

 Loveland, Colorado, USA

The Arise Music Festival, approaching its 6th year, is a diverse event held at Sunset Ranch, a 350-acre organic farm in a scenic valley. In addition to music, Arise gives participants the chance to explore a variety of classes, workshops, and art installations. Many attendees are active in political and environmental causes. One of the requirements is that you “leave no trace” –i.e. clean up and leave the grounds as you found them.
Tickets for the 3-day festival include camping. Car camping is another option. There are also camping upgrades available if you want additional amenities.

8. Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux, Switzerland

The Montreux Jazz Festival, founded in 1967, is one of the most glamorous and popular jazz festivals in the world. The program typically includes rock, soul, and blues musicians as well as jazz greats. On the scenic shores of Lake Geneva, the setting is perfect for relaxation and boat rides as well as great music, parties, and socializing.
Montreux has a variety of venues to enjoy music and special events, such as the Auditorium Stravinski, known for its outstanding acoustics and the Montreux Jazz Club, where you can enjoy intimate performances by contemporary artists. Visit the website to find out program details. Past participants have included B.B. King, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, and scores of other household names as well as new performers.
You can buy an all-music pass or attend one of the festival’s many free events such as jam sessions, concerts, and film screenings.

Music Festivals Make the Summer More Fun

A music festival can be the highlight of summer vacation. If it’s close to home, it can make for an awesome road trip. The above are some of the most exciting summer festivals in the world. Some festivals don’t announce their lineups until fairly late in the season. However, keep in mind that tickets often sell out fast. So, if you want to attend one of these festivals, it’s best to buy your tickets early!
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A Foodie’s Guide to Hungary

Feast Through Hungary

Hungary has a growing and bustling restaurant scene, and thanks to a few Michelin stars won by local restaurateurs, it is finally starting to get some attention. Described by the Daily News Hungry as the “perfect blend of Germanic, Italian, with a little touch of Slavic cooking traditions” Hungary is a hidden gem for any lover of food.

Food Rich in History

Situated in Central Europe between Romania and Austria, the country has a tumultuous past, with much of its history shrouded in raids and invasions. Because of the ongoing battles, the country became somewhat of a melting pot of the neighboring fare. Present day food will showcase a heavy influence of German and Italian food as well as a number of Jewish dishes.
With over 3 million residents, the Budapest metropolitan area accounts for more than a third of Hungary’s population, making it a central location for some of the country’s best food. The capital city was once two separate cities separated by the Danube river. Buda resided on the hillside, while pest was down below. The two cities have since merged, but they still retain their own unique vibes. Buda is known for being a quieter location, home to palaces and Ottoman spas, whereas in Pest, you will find a more lively scene featuring museums, art, and the Jewish District, a spot for amazing food.

Hearty Favorites

Gulyás

Hungary’s cuisine is rich with soups. It’s most well-known dish is arguably goulash, or as the locals call it, gulyás. The dish, a stew consisting of beef and vegetables is a staple in Hungary. It is given a savory, sweet taste thanks to the generous infusion of paprika. This history of gulyás goes back to the Magyars, the earliest settlers of Hungary, who would travel with dried chunks of meat and vegetables with them. They would later combine all the ingredients with water in a heavy cast iron pot and eat the stew throughout their journey.

Põrkõlt

Põrkõlt is another favorite in Hungary. The stew is made of large pieces of meat (usually beef, mutton, chicken, veal, goose, carp, or game), onions, bacon, garlic, tomatoes, and green peppers. And of course, you can’t forget the paprika. The stew is simmered down until barely a broth remains.
Although a staple, soups are not the only fare you will find in Hungary. Take a walk around Budapest, and you’ll surely stumble across somebody devouring langos. This popular street food consists of deep-fried dough topped with sour cream, topped with cheese, topped with practically anything you want. Consider it the Hungarian version of pizza. Meats, cheeses, and vegetables are popular toppings, but langos can also be topped with sweets like Nutella.

Paprika chicken

Paprika chicken (Csirke paprikás) is a bold showcase of the country’s favorite spice, you guessed it, paprika. The chicken is marinated in a creamy sauce and most often served with nokedli (dumplings). While traveling through the country, you will find paprika to be a common ingredient in the local cuisine. Paprika was introduced to Hungary during the 150-year rule of the Turks. It was initially used as an alternative to traditional pepper as the price of pepper began to rise. However, it slowly became a staple of the Hungarian kitchen and replaced pepper altogether.

Pork

Pork is the chosen meat in Hungary. The reason for this is rooted in history. During the period following the Ottoman era, the Turks took away domestic except pigs, as the Turks did not eat pigs due to their Muslim faith. You will find pork showcased in many of the local markets, where you can treat yourself to a diverse supply of local sausages and cured meats.

Sweet Tastes

While the culinary scene does not get its fair share of attention, the confections of Hungary are known worldwide. If sweets are your weakness, be sure to try a Kurtoskalaces, aptly known as a chimney cake. This treat is a towering funnel of sweet dough, topped with butter, sugar, and often cinnamon, nuts, and candies. Not sure where to find one? Like with Lángos, a walk around town is sure to introduce you to someone enjoying this dessert. The Dobos torta is another treat not to be missed. This dessert is a vanilla cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel.
When enjoying dessert, don’t forget to try some local wine. Though Hungary is not usually a name that is tossed around in the wine realm, it’s moderate climate makes it a great place to grow a variety of wine grapes. The Tokaji aszú comes from the Tokaji region of Hungary. The wine is made from hand-picked berries that have been affected by noble rot. This type of berry lends to a very sweet wine that is a favorite in Hungary.

Can’t-Miss Local Spots

The Great Hall Market, expansive, and supported by towering wrought iron, is a foodie hub in Budapest. The traditional fare of fruits and vegetables are ever present, but this market has so much more to offer. Meats and cheeses abound, but you will also find a large supply of preserved foods, such as jams and pickles. Pickled foods are a large part of the Hungarian diet and will typically have an entire section devoted to them at the markets.
Café Ruszworm is one of oldest cafes in Budapest and one of the best places to try a Dobos torta. Another delicious choice is the Ruszworm Cream Cake, which consists of a sweet vanilla cream between two delicate layers of pastry.
Gelarto Rosa delights with picture worthy servings of ice cream. The smooth, frozen dessert is beautifully formed to resemble a rose. The shop features only the best local and organic ingredients. Alongside their traditional offerings, they also provide vegan, lactose intolerant, and diabetic friendly options.
Looking for the best pancakes? Gundel is the place to visit. Here, the pancakes are stuffed with grounds walnuts, raisins, rum, and cream. They are topped with a decadent chocolate-rum sauce and a sprinkling of orange zest.
Pest-Buda is a great place to find traditional homestyle cooking. The restaurant and hotel are located within an 18th-century building in the Buda Castle Quarter.
As with every location, be sure to keep an eye on where the natives frequent. You will often discover hidden treasures that will delight your inner foodie.

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Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a tourist destination known for its “melting pot” of influences from Greece, the Ottoman Empire, and Persia to name a few. The country sits along the Black Sea which has become a vital land passage between Europe and Asia.
Bulgaria is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and destinations on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List including:

  • Rila Monastery
  • Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
  • Boyana Church
  • Madara Rider
  • Srebarna Nature Reserve
  • Martenitsa

Bulgaria is also home to many historical sites where visitors can learn about Bulgaria’s past such as:

  • Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral
  • Shipka Memorial
  • Perperikon
  • Baba Vida
  • Balchik Palace
  • Belogradchik Fortress
  • Cherven Fortress
  • Vrana Palace

Bulgaria is also full of naturally beautiful landscapes that draw many tourists to the country. It is a destination home to beautiful national parks such as Central Balkan National Park and Rila National Park. Bulgaria is also home to many ancient monasteries such as the Rila Monastery, The Troya Monastery, the Dryanovo Monastery, and the Zemen Monastery to name a few. Moreover, there are also beautiful art galleries and history museums that span from the ancient days through modern-day Bulgarian history.
All of these attractions make Bulgaria a great place to tour, visit, and learn more about European history as well as the history of the Bulgarian people. Tourists can also enjoy many beautiful landmarks and national parks along with wildlife and nature.

Geography

Bulgaria has varied geographic landscapes and that includes lowlands, plains, hills, mountains, valleys, and deep gorges. Most of the country is divided into four different sections including high and low plains and these sections are divided into what are called geomorphological regions that are called: Danubian Plain, the Balkan Mountains, the Transitional regions, and the Rilo-Rhodope areas.
About two-thirds of the land are rolling plains, small hills, and plateaus. All of this land sits under the 600-meter mark.

Climate

Bulgaria’s climate is quite complex for the size of the country. Bulgaria’s southernmost region is part of the continental climate zone and there are small areas that also fall into the Mediterranean climate zone as well. The continental influences are the strongest in the winter producing and the Mediterranean influences on the weather are stronger in the spring and summer seasons. Bulgaria also has a few alpine zones which are in the mountains and are over 1,000 meters in elevation.
The mountains and valleys of Bulgaria break up any massive temperature swaths that would otherwise settle over the land. This makes the temperature and climate varied throughout the entire country, even though it is contained in a relatively small area of space.

Best Time To Visit

Between the summer and winter seasons are the best times to visit Bulgaria. This means that many tourists visit the area during the other times of the year and the “quietest” times to go are between April and May and again in September and October. These are usually great months to visit Bulgaria, even if a lot of people do not do go during this time. Consider that the weather is the most pleasant during these months far as temperature goes and this is when the prices will be lower.

What To Know Before Visiting

Bulgaria is More Than Its Coast

Bulgaria is more than just the coastline. Sadly, many tourists do not get past the coastlines and the beach resorts near the Black Sea to fully experience all Bulgaria has to offer. There are many more remarkable resorts inland that you can enjoy if you get there to see them.

Getting Around Is Not Very Easy

Bulgaria’s train network is not exactly “a well-oiled machine” so to speak. This means that tourists should expect significant delays when they are trying to use public transportation systems throughout Bulgaria. Leave plenty of extra time to get where you are going in case delays to occur. Same goes with the extensive bus network.

When You Want To Say No, You Nod

That sounds weird, but it’s true. In Bulgaria, when you want to say “no,” nodding is the way to go, which is the opposite gesture used in the U.S. In Bulgaria, body language speaks extensively, so be sure to mean “no” but nod as in “yes.” Confusing, but necessary to communicate with the natives.

Enjoy Delectable Cuisines While Enjoying Nature

Bulgaria is the ideal destination because it allows you to enjoy beautiful views while you dine on a variety of native cuisines. Native dishes include fiery flavors of the Balkan spirit coupled with more mild fragrances of the Mediterranean which sprinkled with a variety of flavors from the Middle East. While you are there, be sure to check out some of Bulgaria’s signature dishes such as their meshana skara (mixed grill) which is made of grilled meats on a skewer and consists of both steak and pork. This is a dish traditionally served with french fries and topped with chopped onions and lyutenitsa usually washed down with several beers before being finished off with rakia. Another dish to try is kebapche which is a meatball made out of minced meat and spices and is shaped like a sausage. It is traditionally grilled and served with shopska salad and french fries all topped with Bulgarian cheeses. These unique dishes make dining in style while enjoying the scenery in Bulgaria a pleasure.

Bulgaria’s Mountains are Not to be Missed

The mountains in Bulgaria are a great destination to visit during your trip. They are a sight to behold and offer some of the best tourist attractions in the country. Tourists can enjoy the fantastic folklore of Bansko, the traditional tasty foods that are around Kardjali, and the beautiful views looking down over the Bulgarian cities.

Taste Great Bulgarian Wine

Bulgaria is a famous destination for its incredible selections of wines, both traditional and modern. Some of their best wines include Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. There are also more local types of wines including muscat ottonel, red misket, pamid, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot to name a few that people from outside of Bulgaria may not have heard of or tried very often. Give them all a try, you may find something new you enjoy. Go on a wine tour to taste wines straight from Bulgarian wineries.

Handmade Crafts Are Common in Bulgaria

Leave extra room in your suitcase to take home some handmade goodies. Many locals make and sell handmade goods in the local markets for a living. Some of these handmade goods include handmade pottery, woodcarvings, jewelry, leather items, or even certain oil-based cosmetics. There are even amazing paintings and other creations to bid on if that strikes your interest.

Weather In Bulgaria

Temperatures in Bulgaria generally range from 36 to 78 degrees, which represents a fairly mild, moderate climate. Bulgaria gets most of its precipitation between May and August. Bulgaria is not a high-precipitation area as it only averages about 2 – 3 inches of rainfall per month.

Languages

The main language in Bulgaria is Bulgarian which is related to the Western group of languages including Czech and Slovak. Moreover, Bulgaria is a destination where English is spoken in most of the tourist towns and cities as well.  So getting around far as communication is concerned, should not be too much of a challenge.

Electricity

Tourists planning to charge their electronic devices should bring appropriate adapters that work with the 230 V electricity in Bulgaria.

Currency

Unlike many countries in continental Europe, Bulgaria does not use the Euro. Bulgaria still uses their own currency called the Bulgarian lev, which means you will need to exchange some money to use in Bulgaria during your trip.
When you are visiting Bulgaria, be sure to try some of their delicious, signature dishes and couple it with some of their decadent (mostly red) wines for a dining experience you will not soon forget. After a great meal, take a sightseeing trip to visit any of the UNESCO sites that are historic landmarks throughout the country. Also, visit the local shops to find unique, handmade crafts that you will not be able to find anywhere else.
So, come over to Bulgaria and enjoy learning the history behind the historical sites throughout the country and enjoy some great cuisine mixed with some delectable wines on your next trip abroad.

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Germany Destination Guide—Tips and Highlights

With medieval castles, baroque churches, and picturesque villages, Germany boasts a vibrant historical legacy. Germany exemplifies natural beauty, culture, history and art. Here’s a destination guide for your trip to Germany.

Top Highlights of Germany

With over 2 millennia of history, Germany is one of the world’s most dominant economic powers, whose cultural influence has shaped the European landscape. One of the top attractions of Germany is the Bavarian countryside, home to the 19th-century fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle. The Bavarian region also houses Germany’s most popular auto touring route, the Romantic Road, weaving through spa towns like Baden-Baden, and well-preserved medieval towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Two of Germany’s most outstanding cathedrals are located roughly an hour away from each other. One of Europe’s largest cathedrals, the Cologne Cathedral is a stunning example of High Gothic architecture. It is also Germany’s most visited landmark. Built by Emperor Charlemagne, the Aachen cathedral served as the seat of coronation for 31 German kings and 12 queens. It is known for its exquisite mosaics decorated with gold leaf and precious stones.
Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is easily one of Germany’s top destinations. Located in Berlin, it is home to some of Germany’s oldest museums such as the Pergamon and the Neues Museum. Visitors can admire unique treasures including the bust of Queen Nefertiti, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, as well as the world’s largest collection of Etruscan art.

Geographical Landscape

Being Europe’s seventh largest country, Germany’s geography is extremely variegated and diverse. Towards the north lies the North European Plain, characterized by flat, low lying areas filled with bogs, rivers and streams. It is now used predominantly for agriculture.
The coastline along the North Sea is full of marshes, wetlands, mudflats and islands. But Germany’s largest island Rugen is found off the Baltic Sea coastline. The area is a lot hillier than the North Sea coastline and has many steep and jagged cliffs.
During the last Ice Age, the glaciers retreated extensively, leaving behind dry and sandy terrain and a great number of small lakes. Lying south of Berlin, this topography rises to form giant landforms such as the volcanic Harz Mountains, the forested Rothaargebirge Mountains, and the Rhine River Valley.
The Rhine River is Germany’s longest river. At the southwestern border of the Rhine River with France lies the Black Forest. The river Danube rises in the Black Forest, travels across central Europe, and ends in the Black Sea.
Along the southern border with Austria, the highest mountains of Germany are found, the Bavarian Alps. Germany’s highest point, Zugspitze, is also found here.

Things To Know Before Visiting Germany

Best Time to Visit

While May through September is peak tourist season, the best time to visit Germany for those seeking the outdoors and less crowds is April and October. Winter is also popular for its beautiful Christmas markets and alpine skiing adventures.

Weather

Germany has a temperate seasonal climate characterized by warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, more prominently in the summers.

Languages Spoken

The official language of Germany is German, but most locals study English as their foreign language of choice. French is also a common second foreign language.

Currency

Germany’s official currency is the euro. Germany is one of the most cash-intensive countries in the world. From parking and gas stations to museums and restaurants, cash is the preferred and sometimes the only mode of payment.

Electricity

The electrical sockets in Germany are of type F. The standard voltage is 230 V, while the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If traveling from the US, visitors will need a combined power plug adapter and a voltage converter.

Traveling around

Germany is known for its extensive and efficient public transportation. The high-speed trains can cost a bit, and it is recommended to book in advance or opt for the slower, intercity trains. Visitors have to both pay and validate their tickets. There is €60 fine for not doing so. Note that while there is no security personnel or gate at train station entrances, there are ticket checkers in plain clothes.
The widespread train network means that visitors can explore the other wonders of Germany. While big cities like Berlin and Munich attract the most crowds, Germany is a country of many treasures. With a valid EU driver’s license or International Driving License, visitors can also choose to rent a car and hit the beautiful countryside and historic towns.

Visitor Facilities

Like many countries in Europe, toilets in Germany are pay-to-use. Pay toilets average around 0.50 to 1 euros. It is also not uncommon to find attendants of the opposite gender in the toilets.

Opening Hours

Germany has some of the strictest laws in Europe regarding opening hours. While eateries like cafes and restaurants are open throughout the week, other places like stores, supermarkets and pharmacies are closed on Sunday. This concept of making ‘taking a day off’ a legal requirement is dear to the Germans, who call it ‘Ruhetag’ (resting day).

Respect the Rules

Germans are known for following the rules. Behavior which is common in other countries (example: jaywalking, cutting in line, arriving late, etc.) will earn tourists disapproving looks and nods.

Food

Germany is the ideal destination to try unique cuisines. German dishes are traditionally heavy in meats, sugar and breads. Local favorites include schnitzel (breaded and fried veal), weisswurst (white sausage), apfelstrudel (apple strudel), currywurst (grilled sausage), spargel (white asparagus), and Schwarzwälder kirschtorte (Black Forest cake).

Oktoberfest

Held every year in Munich, Oktoberfest is the world’s most popular beer festival. The huge beer halls, most famous of which is the Hofbräuhaus, attract tourists from all over the world. Men and women are dressed in Bavarian Lederhosen and Dirndl, and there is live music, parades, and traditional German cuisine.

Christmas Markets

Dating back to the Late Middle Ages, Christmas markets radiate the festive spirit of the holiday season. The beautifully decorated stalls are lined with local handicrafts and woodwork such as the famous nutcracker. Visitors can also savor German beer, as well as the delicious aromas of baked goods like stollen (fruit bread) and lebkuchen (gingerbread). There are more than 150 markets in Germany alone, but the Christkindlesmarkt of Nuremberg and the Striezelmarkt in Dresden are the most popular.
Germany is a country whose roots travel far beyond the Middle Ages. The landscape is steeped in history, as reflected in its many museums, monuments, and squares. It is also a country of natural beauty as can be witnessed in the green valleys of the Rhine River and the majestic snowy caps of the Alps. It is also a country of wonderful cultural traditions, as can be savored in locally brewed beer, delicious cuisine, and handcrafted woodwork, textiles, and pottery. All of this together makes Germany one of the top destinations in the world.

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6 Local Dishes Around the World That Are Worth the Trip

Local Dishes Around the World!

An Italian dinner of pasta, tomato ragu, bread, and olive oil, speaks not only of the recipes passed on through generations but of the fertile lands that bore the olives in the country. In Japan, sushi is representative of the vast resources the country inherits from the sea. A meal in a new country is a way to experience and enjoy the tastes and traditions of the place you are visiting.
With food, you will almost always find the best dishes by going straight to the source. With decades, or even centuries experience cooking the same dishes, the locals have learned the insider secrets to perfect their cuisine. There are so many regional cuisines that are praised throughout the world, that traveling just to taste the foods of the world can be a worthwhile adventure. But with so many options and a wide range of flavors, where do you begin? Here’s a list of the best local dishes around the world.

Ceviche in Peru

You may have heard of ceviche before. To put it simply, ceviche

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Ceviche

is chopped raw fish that has been marinated in citrus and peppers. The fish “cooks” in the acidity of the citrus. The fish and citrus vary, but the flavor profile is the same — fresh, clean fish, the tangy acidity of lime or lemon, and subtle heat. Located off the Pacific Ocean, Peru has an abundant supply of fresh seafood. Popular options include sea bass, halibut, and tilapia. But as chefs continue to experiment, other varieties including marlin and shark are becoming popular as well. Lima is known to be the culinary hotspot of Peru, but there are great ceviche options throughout the country. Chez Wong is a must if you are in Lima. Also check out Jasusi in Máncora.

Chili Crab in Singapore

Be prepared to get your hands dirty when you dig into Singapore’s signature dish. You’re sure to find yourself licking your fingers as you try to savor every morsel of sauce. Chili crab is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, providing an experience your taste buds won’t soon forget. The sweet and tender mud crab is smothered in a sauce composed of tomatoes, garlic, and spices. The degree of spice will vary from place to place, but it is generally believed, the spicier, the better. For authentic chili crab, a visit to Roland’s is a must, as they claim to be the place where the chili crab began. Few have been entrusted with the family recipe that makes this dish so special. Another favorite among locals is Jumbo Seafood, winner of numerous culinary awards and winner for best chili crab in 2006.

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Poutine

Poutine in Montreal

If you are looking for a comfort food that will stick to your guts, look no further than poutine. This local dish is comprised of crispy french fries topped with squeaky (as poutine connoisseurs like to call it) cheese curds and smothered in a rich brown gravy. This comfort food found its beginnings in Montreal, but can be found throughout most of Canada. Although the traditional variety is a favorite among locals, chefs throughout the country have found a variety of ways to spice it up. Be sure to visit La Banquise and try one of their 30 varieties including The Scooby, topped with steak, fried pickles, onions, bacon, and garlic sauce, or The Rachel, a vegetarian option topped with peppers, mushrooms and onions. Try Au Pied de Cochon, for a rich egg and cream infused gravy with a generous serving of foie gras on top.

Goulash in Hungary

You may remember goulash from childhood — ground beef, tomato sauce, noodles, a classic weeknight dinner. But that’s not the goulash we are talking about. Traditional Hungarian goulash (gulyás) is a local dish in Hungary containing a rich meat and potato stew. Though often made with large chunks of beef, it is not uncommon for veal or pork to be used as well. The meat is slowly simmered in a deep tomato broth, infused with smoky, Hungarian paprika. Potatoes and vegetables are added to create a warm, hearty dish that can be found on almost every menu in Hungary. If you are looking for an authentic experience, head to Budapest Bisztró.

Som Tam in Thailand

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Som Tam

Thailand is known for its soups and noodles. And rightfully so. Thailand is home to Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup), and Pad Kee Mao (also known as drunken noodles). And while everyone loves a spicy noodle dish, there is another dish that travelers and locals keep coming back to. Som Tam is a green papaya salad. It can be found in street markets and in restaurants. Chilies, garlic, dried shrimp, fish sauce, and palm sugar are mixed together with a mortar and pestle. The resulting sauce is then combined with crisp, sour papaya. The sweetness of the sugar balances out the tart flavors and the chilies provide a nice heat. But be forewarned, the heat level will vary and some salads will provide quite a kick.

Pizza in Italy

When it comes to food, there are so many options to choose from in Italy. Italy is world renowned for its pasta, polenta, olive oil, wine — pretty much food in general. It’s hard to go wrong when choosing what to eat while in Italy. But perhaps the most iconic and arguably most delicious local dish to eat in Italy is pizza.
Pizza has been around for centuries, in multiple forms, flavors, and varieties. In Italy, pizza is at its best when it is kept simple. The best pizza is a showcase of its ingredients. Pizza Margherita is a classic. Crisp dough, a simple sauce, basil, and cheese are all that’s needed for the perfect slice. For a no-fuss traditional pizzeria, stop by L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples. In Rome, try La Gatta Mangiona and taste one of their seasonal favorites.