Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #6

We left Bratislava and sailed over night to Vienna with Viking River Cruises. Not knowing how much of a full day we had in front of us we hopped the tour bus early dockside and began our tour of the wonderful tour of the city. We drove by many an architectural wonder and it was difficult at best to take photos through the bus windows. It seemed I was always on the wrong side. Our first stop was the Hofburg Palace, the former imperial palace, in the center of the city. Built in the 13th century it now is the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria.

 

Hofburg Palace Trim in Vienna

Hofburg Palace Trim in Vienna

 

After we entered the main gates we came upon a central portion of the palace adorned with magnificent statues and artwork. I took the liberty of showing a broader perspective in the top photo and a close up of a particular area of the roof. It was a very dramatic statement and I took hundreds of photos of just the various trim and  artwork adorning the palace walls. This one stood out with it’s ornate characters and the gold seal. The palace housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty and rulers of the Astro-Hunagarian Empire.

 

 

Close Up of Hofburg Palace Trim in Vienna

Close Up of Hofburg Palace Trim in Vienna

 

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #5

On our cruise with Viking River Cruises in December we extended our 8 day trip on the Danube and added the three day extension to Prague. Everyone raved and raved about this fabulous city and I will tell you they were correct. I now have another “favorite city” in the world. One of the attractions is the Prague Castle, which is a huge complex. As you enter there are Castle Guards on both sides of the main entrance. The Guard is composed of a brigade of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic who serve the President of the Czech Republic, as a security force and provide honor guards and take part in ceremonial functions. The guards are changed every hour from 7:00 AM daily. If you plan it you can see the “Changing the Guard” ceremony daily. The current Guard Commander is Radim Studeny.

 

 

Prague Castle Guard #1

Prague Castle Guard #1

 

Prague Castle is a huge complex and is the largest ancient castle in the world. It occupies almost 70,000 square meters. It is about 570 meters long and 130 meters wide. It dates from the 9th century and is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic, who currently is Milos Zeman. The castle was opened in 870 AD and has a blend of Renaissance architecture, Baroque, Mannerist style, Mannerism, Gothic architecture combined in the Castle complex. A fun fact, Prague Castle is the location in the second level of “Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb” video game.

 

 

Prague Castle Guard #2

Prague Castle Guard #2

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #4

While on our first morning tour with Viking River Cruises in Budapest, we stumbled upon this statue of one of Hungary’s military heroes. They have many, as they have been in a great deal of battles over the centuries and have lost a good amount of soldiers. This statue is of the Count Hadik Andras de Futak, a field marshall of the Habsburg army. In addition, as a result of his heroics during battle he served as the Governor of Galicia and Lodomeria from January 1774 until June of 1776. He was a brilliant tactician and was known for his “Small War Tactics”, relying on the excellent training of his light cavalry hussars. His most famous action was swinging around the Prussians and taking their capital Berlin during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). The “Slovak National Academy of Defense” bears his name currently.

 

Count Hadik Andras de Futak Nobleman

Count Hadik Andras de Futak Nobleman

 

As we approached the statue my wife told me the grass you can see on either side was fake as it was so green in the middle of winter. I told her that was a good assessment, as there was no way it was real with the continual freezing weather. Earlier in the morning I thought we saw Lily Tomlin in a coffee shop and I was mistaken. It was just someone who took after her. In this case we were just as wrong. It was real grass. I can only guess they have a crew that covers the grass every cold spell and removes the cover as the temperatures rise. We were just a little taken back to say the least! The grass was as natural as the flowers surrounding the statue!

 

 

Count Hadik Andras de Futak Nobleman

Count Hadik Andras de Futak Nobleman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #3

Bratislava is the Capitol of the young country of Slovakia formed in 1993 after 41 years of Russian rule. Prior to this it was part of Communist Czechoslovakia from 1948 until 1989 when the country split into two separate governing bodies and countries. Slovakia became a member of the European Union in March of 2004 and in January of 2009 adopted the Euro as its currency. It was our second stop on our Danube Waltz Cruise with Viking River Cruises.

 

Memorial for the Red Army Liberators. There Were 6,845 Slavin Men Who Died Fighting the Nazis.

Memorial for the Red Army Liberators. There Were 6,845 Soviet Men Who Died Fighting the Nazis.

 

The fortitude and resolve this country has displayed over the years is amazing and thousands and thousands of people have been displaced throughout the ages by the various regimes. During World War II between 75,000 and 105,000 Slovakian Jews were murdered. Thankfully the German rule was brief and the Soviet and Romanian armies conquered the Nazis. This led to the deportation of 80,000 Hungarians and 32,000 Germans. This country is very challenged economically, but has started making headway, by producing Czech automobiles in an agreement with the Czech Republic, the other portion of the original Czechoslovakia. They have a great outlook and I predict they will rise above their current situation.

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #2

One of the primary reasons we chose the Danube Waltz River Cruise from Viking, was the plethora of Christmas Markets, which is a “street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of advent. The history of the markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. The Vienna “December Market” was a kind of forerunner of the Christmas Market and dates back to 1294.”** We couldn’t get enough and hit every market we could!

 

Some cities had several markets and the majority of the markets were a collection of booths with massive quantities of regional food specialties, including Bratwurst, Chimney cakes, a rolled light dough cooked over open fire with assorted toppings, cookies (Macarons were my favorite) and candy. Beverages flowed, particularly(“Gluhwein-a hot mulled wine”) coffee, tea and beer. Additionally assorted crafts, soaps, ceramics, ornaments and decorations for one’s Christmas tree were available, jewelry, pomanders and potpourri. One could spend an entire day shopping and deciding what trinket or quality creation they would take home. We told ourselves we would display self control before we left, but wound up having to purchase an additional suitcase for all the items purchased.

 

 

This photo is of the beautiful St. Stephens Basilica in Budapest and was taken the first night we were there. It gives you a taste of how crowded the markets were and notice the coats and mufflers worn by all. If the wind was blowing directly after sunset, it was very and felt like at times the wind was slicing through your coat. Enjoy!

 

 

 

St. Stephen's Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica

 

 

** Description from Christmas market -Wikipedia

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #1

 

As I barrel towards the sunset, my body reminds me daily of the aging process I am facing head on. There are days I spring out of bed (just kidding, I don’t think that has actually transpired in decades!) and hit the ground running (LOL, not in twenty years have I run, except my cardiac stress test every three years). Other days it is hard to find the floor as I roll out of the bed.

 

 

The older I get, the more I treasure the little things in life, like two days ago when our youngest son Chris was in town and decided to stop by to ask me to go to lunch. Of course I had already eaten (just my luck) and had an appointment I couldn’t miss, so we only got to see each other for a few minutes and he left. That made my day and put me on cloud nine (translation from Texan, “very happy”). The good news is he was able to eat with his Mother and see her briefly before going back to Dallas.

 

Viking Longship Modi

Viking Longship Modi

 

My first photo is a picture of the Longship Modi, the wonderful accommodation on our first cruise with Viking. This photo shows a portion of the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, directly behind the longship. The Modi was built recently and we thought it was grand 5-star lodging. Our stateroom was very comfortable and actually larger than I expected, with a nice balcony to drink morning coffee on. We would take another cruise in a heart beat.

 

There is a saying “Some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you”! I love this for some odd reason and it’s my perspective on life. The other day, with seeing my son, I definitely “ate the bear”! After Chris left I started thinking of ways to write more, as some of you may or may  not know, writing doesn’t always pour out of your brain. There are days it flows smoothly, days it’s like a raging river pouring out by the gallon and days where no matter how hard you put forth the effort, nothing comes out and it’s like you have two blocks of concrete tied to your feet and being pushed overboard. Basically no matter how hard you try or what amount of effort you put forth, nothing comes out!

 

 

The third scenario has been commonplace recently. Then I thought about a series I had earlier in my career, called “Photo of the Day #???” This series motivated me to write more often and put forth effort with writing, centered around the photo I chose for the day. I checked back and I was at Photo of the Day #79. Then I thought about the hundreds, maybe thousands of photos I took on our Viking River Cruise in December. Why not do a feature series of the various photos I took in Europe? So I am starting a new series as of today with hopefully a photo daily, maybe more than one and if I get tied up with the concrete blocks I may miss a day or two.

 

 

Most days the verbiage will be less than today, but the photos will be original. I realize how fortunate Kim and I were and there are some readers that will never get the opportunity to take a trip with Viking River Cruises. Hopefully by sharing photos it will give you a minute taste of river cruises. Consequently, I am sharing photos with you from our experience and I sincerely hope you enjoy! Thank you and be kind to each other!

 

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Photo of The Day #79, Boar’s Head Chipolte Gouda Cheese

I absolutely love cheese of all kinds. One of my favorite cheeses is Gouda, a mild solid cheese full of flavor. Being from Texas I always use whole peppers of all kinds including dried Chipolte peppers when I cook. I add them and dried adobe peppers to enchiladas and other Mexican foods I cook at home.

 

Recently I have started purchasing several items from the fresh deli at our local HEB grocery store, a chain based in San Antonio with excellent prices and products. HEB carries store brand and Boar’s Head products both. The Boar’s Head items stand out far and above the HEB items in flavor and taste. The HEB items have the best prices.

 

Boar's Head Chipolte Gouda Cheese

Boar’s Head Chipolte Gouda Cheese

 

About four months ago I noticed that the deli was carrying a new cheese and they always allow you to sample the products, before you buy them. It was Chipolte Gouda Cheese and you could see the chopped up Chipolte peppers throughout the cheese. I knew I had to try it. OMG it was good and now I am addicted to it.

 

 

I always buy a pound or two when I go shopping. It is good with the Buffalo Spicy Chicken, Ham, Roast Beef or just about any kind of meat available. If this is an option at your local deli, I highly recommend you buy a little and try it! I promise you will like it, if you favor spicy foods!

 

 

Photo of The Day #78, My Special Pedicure at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

I am very fond of pedicures and having my feet massaged. When given the Spa menu at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat I opted for a pedicure, as opposed to a massage. Over the prior week I had received two wonderful Thai massages. One massage was in Bangkok and the other one in Phuket, so I decided I would go for a change of pace. I made my reservation and went to spa a few minutes prior to my pedicure. The waiting room was filled with deep cushioned chairs and lounges and I thought, given a few minutes I might just doze off.

 

Entrance to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Entrance to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

 

The attendants let me know that I would have a session in their Antioxidant room prior to the pedicure. When I inquired what that meant, they led me in and had me lay prone on a mat and relax. Almost immediately the room was filled with a very warm blast of air and I felt like I was in a sauna. The attendant informed me that my session, which would basically eliminate toxins from my entire body, was to last fifteen minutes. After what seemed an eternity, and an inability to breathe I got up and decided I had to leave the room and grab a few whiffs of oxygen. Once I was outside I discovered I had only been in the room for right at five minutes. I cannot understand how anyone could last the full fifteen minutes.

 

Antioxidant Room at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Antioxidant Room at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

 

I was then lead into the pedicure room by the attendant scheduled to perform my pedicure and she began the process. I interviewed the young lady, as she began the procedure and I discovered that she was from India, a graduate of business school and was at the Banjaran to learn how to run a spa. Her dream was to return to India and open her own spa, after absorbing everything she could at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. I inquired how they interviewed her and she stated by a Google Hangout. I thought that was very cool, given we conduct a Google+ Hangout almost weekly with our son in Japan. I love the process. Obviously they thought she was what they needed, as she was hired and given two weeks to move to Ipoh Malaysia, where the spa is located.

 

 

The Pedicure Room for the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

The Pedicure Room for the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

 

My pedicure was to last one hour, but it turned out I was in the room for 90 minutes, as we talked about her dream and my travel blogger business. I was amazed to learn that she was fluent in four languages. She was a very intelligent, extroverted young lady and I could tell she would achieve her dream and have that spa one day. I believe this with all my heart. She was well versed in customer service attributes and was learning the details of all the spa processes. I wish her the best of luck and need to thank her publicly, for what turned out to be the best pedicure I have ever had. If she continues down this path, learning all the other spa treatments, her spa in India will be very successful and profitable.

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

Photo of The Day #77, You Think You Have Obstacles in Your Life???

When I was in Thailand this last November one of the tours we ventured out on, as guests of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways, was the James Bond Island tour. We wound up back at the Koy Panyee Sea Gypsy Village in Phang Nga Bay for lunch. After a wonderful meal of lobster, fish, shrimp and a dessert of fresh pineapple, we were allowed to walk through the complex of various gift shops, food outlets and an elementary school for the village children.

 

Panyee Village Elementary School

Panyee Village Elementary School

 

Near the school was a structure floating in the ocean and at first I couldn’t figure out what it was. As I walked nearer I recognized nets and soon discovered it was actually a soccer field for the kids to use, as the amount of raw land wasn’t sufficient to have a normal soccer field. I thought this was a wonderful and amazing idea. Little did I know the real story behind this pitch!

 

Panyee Floating Soccer Field

Koh Panyee Floating Soccer Field

 

Yesterday I shared a photo of this field on Instagram and Facebook. A fellow travel blogger and friend Vanessa Workman attached the video below, from TMBbrand’s channel. They have launched a new brand vision “Make THE Difference”, by making films that would inspire people to start thinking differently. I sincerely hope you take away as much as I did from this video.

 

Photo of The Day #76, When You Are At The Driskill, You Know You Are In Texas

The Driskill Hotel in Austin was completed in 1886 and is named after a cattleman named Jesse Driskill. Each side of this Historic Hotel is impressive and has a similar stucco exterior with appropriate limestone trim. This view below faces 6th street and is a block off of Congress Avenue, in the middle of the after hours district filled with bars, restaurants and breweries. Sixth Street is also home to some of the best music in the country, with bands performing from all over the world, throughout the year.

 

The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel

 

When you enter the lobby from the main entrance on the east side of the hotel, this antique ceiling light extends almost the width of the walkway and pretty well hits you right between the eyes with its warm glow. It is a very detailed fixture and you can’t help but stare as you walk by a plethora of antique furniture collected through the years. The big five pointed star in the middle, makes one start to imagine they are in the wild wild west again.

 

The Chandelier In the Driskill Lobby

The Light Fixture In the Driskill Lobby

 

Throughout the hotel lobby and guest areas there are numerous western couches made from cowhides and made with comfort in mind. You can bet I tried one out and it took a lot of urging to get my rear end up. I wanted to stretch out, relax and take a nap. I wanted to dream about being a cowboy and meeting Lillie Langtry!

 

A Cowhide Couch in the Hallway

A Cowhide Couch in the Hallway

 

On the way to the bar one walks by several sets of revolvers and you know full well you are in Texas now. The guns, including a few rifles, are displayed throughout the second floor. The second floor is home to the hotel’s bar and restaurant. If you need to use the facilities I urge you to make use the restrooms on this level. You will be amazed at the accessories available for your amusement.

 

Revolvers in the Driskill

Revolvers in the Driskill

 

When you walk up to the second floor, from the lobby and head to the bar area, you encounter this massive replica of a Texas steer colorfully decorated with the Driskill’s exterior, superimposed against the state flag and the hotel’s logo. I urge you to deviate from any pre-planned tour and take an hour or so to see this magnificent architectural structure, a member of the Historic Hotels of America and the oldest operating hotel in Austin. If you bypass this hotel in favor of one of the suggested tourist traps then shame on you!

 

A Bull in The Driskill

A Bull in The Driskill

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #75, Rick-Shaws at The Blue House in Penang Malaysia Played My Emotions

As we approached the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion commonly known as The Blue House, in the old Georgetown section of Penang Malaysia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I immediately gravitated to the plethora of Rick-Shaws lined up on the front porch. I have no idea why I am attracted to these antique modes of transportation or why I take endless photos of them. I can remember my first visit to Hong Kong in 1973 and how common they were at that time, as a personal transportation source. They have fascinated me for over 40 years.

 

Single Rick-Shaw with Umbrella

Single Rick-Shaw with Umbrella

 

Over time the quantity and elaborate vehicles have waned and their use diminished extensively. They are still found in a select few cities, like the Georgetown area of Penang, but in most cases it is just a form of tourist attraction and there seems to be a perpetual contest to see which Rick-Shaw can be decorated the gaudiest. We stopped our first night in Penang and all climbed into our Rick-Shaws for a pre-arranged guided and moderated tour. I was fortunate that my guide spoke excellent English and was familiar with local history.

 

 

Double Rick-Shaw

Double Rick-Shaw

 

I was amazed that my guide was near my age, probably had about 1% body fat and I had to outweigh him by at least 50 pounds. He peddled like I was a feather and no sign of struggle or additional effort was displayed during our tour. I think he was used to this routine and when we stopped the ride I tipped him, thanked him and walked away. When I looked back he was lighting up a cigarette, as if to say “I got this covered and then some”!

 

Double-Single Rick-Shaw That Could be a Triple

Three-Single Rick-Shaw That Appear to be a Triple

 

I would recommend you take a whirl on one of these magnificent contraptions and try and visualize what is was like “Back in the Day”! They are in the process of being phased out and it is just another piece of history that we will not be able to experience before too long. Jump in and travel back while you have the chance. I feel fairly certain your brain will allow you to transport yourself back in time and you will be able to appreciate a little slice of history, when things moved at a slower pace and one could appreciate their surroundings.

 

 

 
*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

Photo of The Day #74, Indigenous Men Dressed in Indigenous Attire, Are Very Rare in Cuenca

One sees the Indigenous women all over Cuenca Ecuador and never thinks twice about the attire or manner of dress. Each various tribe dresses in a distinguished manner and has it’s own colors of shawls, skirts, hats, etc that signifies their heritage and what part of the Andes they are from. The apparel ranges from loud bright colors to a more demure earthy tone in some cases and in my humble opinion, they are all beautiful in their own manner.

 

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking To Me

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking To Me

 

It is more uncommon to locate or visualize Indigenous men associated with the various tribes. The majority of the men seen accompanying the brightly adorned and hatted women have converted to a more western style of dress, including blue jeans, khaki shirts and ball caps. The men you do see dressed in Indigenous apparel, are as a whole dressed in sold black, as these gentlemen in my post are outfitted. I am also guessing the Indigenous men originate from the same tribe and are the last hold outs wearing their native garments.

 

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking Away

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking Away

 

They all wear the black bowler hat, have a long ponytail tied back, wear heavy black work boots and the pants are shortened and come to just below the knee. I am not sure of the reasoning for this or the purpose, but I am guessing it as to do with not obstructing their work. You will not find any Indigenous people in what we classify as shorts. It is just not accepted or practiced. A few of the men smoke, but I have never seen any of the Indigenous women light up. Who knows you might just be lucky and see an Indigenous man on your next trip to South America and the Andes range. I truly hope you are fortunate enough to experience this, as I have a feeling the men dressing in Indigenous clothing will soon become a thing of the past!

 

Photo of The Day #73, Convenience Store Meals are Fantastic in Japan

I worked in the convenience store industry for thirty long years and loved every minute of it, especially when I was in the stores talking with employees, customers and vendors. No two days were the same and I had the luxury of meeting people that have become life long friends.  It was always an adventure filled with laughter, hard work and long hours. I am not a desk person and my job allowed me to travel daily. Some days were planned routes accompanied by other management people and some were just random driving with unannounced visits. My favorite method!

 

Drinks Section @ the Local 7-11

Drinks Section @ the Local Japanese 7-11

 

I first remember the US market attempting to do fresh food and make our own in-store food. It was kind of exciting to be on the precipice of this venture. I watched over time as the products changed from purely deep fried unhealthy calorie filled typical state fair or carnival food, to a more healthy alternative. At Circle K a decision was made to try and open “Take Home Ready Made Meals”, that just needed to be heated. It was a good move with lots of choices, but our customers weren’t ready for the process or option at that point. I am also not sure they thought a convenience store chain had any business producing take home meals.

 

Various light Snacks at the Local 7-11

Various light Snacks at the Local Japanese 7-11

 

Then I visited Japan, where the largest franchisee Ito-Yokado, bought 7-11 in 1998 and took it out of bankruptcy. It is also where they do the ready to eat so much better than we can ever think about. Daily a truck brings all fresh items and takes away their leftover product. I was blown away and utterly mesmerized by their process and the extent of the items offered. I could virtually eat at my local 7-11 in Japan and not have the same meal or item for I am guessing 90 days or more.

 

Yakesoba and Other Great Heat and Serve at the Local 7-11

Yakisoba and Other Great Heat and Serve at the Local Japanese 7-11

 

I was amazed and tried sampling many of their products. It was like I was at a restaurant in Japan or someone’s home. Yes it is really that good! They did it right and I wish that we could get it right in the US. I think geography has a lot to do with it, as their stores in Japan are just blocks apart. If you find yourself hungry after hours or any time of day, while in Japan, I highly recommend you visit your nearest 7-11 and try their food. You will not be disappointed, it’s a bargain and it’s obviously fresh, given they bring it in daily!

 

I am going back again in December to one of my favorite countries in the world (Japan) and you can bet your bottom dollar I will take every opportunity I get, eating breakfast, lunch and an occasional dinner at my local 7-11. I love their food and can’t wait to get back. I am sure their options and menus have expanded and I will be surprised with the new foods being offered. Definitely a business success story of the highest caliber!

 

Photo of The Day #72, HomeAway Winner

We had our kickoff meeting for the Austin chapter of Travel Massive recently. One of our feature speakers, Erin Portman of HomeAway, was a vivacious young lady with more energy in her, than Carter had in it’s Little Liver pills. I was amazed how how deftly she set up her box for her give away. She laid out the brochures, refrigerator magnets and business cards. I think she has performed this assembly before. Erin had a smile from ear to ear and was a pleasure to visit with. We were very happy that her company donated a good size gift certificate.

 

Erin Portman with Home Away alias

Erin Portman with Home Away, alias @HomeAway_Erin, #HomeAway works 

 

After all the presentations were given, Erin proceeded to award the prize of a HomeAway gift certificate. I was attentive, but had no idea that the name pulled would be mine. I was totally caught off guard and offered to place the gift certificate back in the box and have someone else’s name drawn. Everyone to my humble surprise told me no and I should keep it and use it on my Europe trip in September and October. So by gosh I will! Thank you kindly HomeAway for such a wonderful gift!

 

 

Photo of The Day #71, Panaderia Deluxe at The Oro Verde Hotel Guayaquil

As I stumbled down to the coffee shop in the lobby of The Oro Verde Hotel, I told myself the trip to Ecuador was just beginning and I needed to just have coffee and something healthy, in a manner of speaking. I had no idea I would encounter such a plethora of sweet items that challenged my desire to remain healthy. After all I was on a 5-week trial run to see what the real cost of living in Cuenca was for a month. I knew my fiend Efrain of Mio Tours would be there soon and I had to make a decision.

 

Assorted Sweets for Anytime of the Day

Assorted Sweets for Anytime of the Day

 

I decided I would eat healthy when I got to Cuenca and settled into my condo. To heck with being healthy, when all this was staring me in the face. Not only was I pondering the quantity and assortment of sweets to ingest, I actually had serious debates with myself about the assorted sandwiches and salads displayed in this case below. Decisions should never be made when you are hungry! I knew this and also was very familiar with the process of having Mio Tours (You Tube Link) drive me to Cuenca. I knew full well that we would stop at a restaurant my friend Efrain favored in Puerto Inca. The lunches with juice and soup run around $3.50 per person and are very tasty.

 

Sandwiches and Ready to Eat Items

Sandwiches and Ready to Eat Items

 

Then of course another challenge is the magnificent bread they prepare all over Ecuador and since it is so inexpensive you want to buy every type of loaf available and see what is in line with your tastes and what isn’t. Down deep I knew I couldn’t buy more than one type of bread at a time and would have to wait until I got to Cuenca and shop at Maria’s Alemania Bakery. This bakery has the absolute best breads in the world, bar none!

 

Loaves and Loaves of Fantastic Bread / Pan

Loaves and Loaves of Fantastic Bread / Pan

 

Oh how I wanted to box up one of these whole cakes and take it with me to the Condo. I could then bury my face in all that sweet goodness and eat like a pig! No one would see me and no one would know. So why not you ask? Because rather simply put, I have to live with myself and couldn’t do this without totally stressing out! Oh well maybe next time. I absolutely love all the Panaderias in Ecuador and they make very delicious goods. Most are so inexpensive it is almost embarrassing. This shop was nothing really out of the normal and is fairly representative of the bakeries in Ecuador. One of life’s small pleasures and I can’t wait to get back to Ecuador and eat my fill of sweets! Waistline? What waistline? I can always walk it off in Cuenca! After all it is situated at around 8500 feet above seal level and that takes more than a little effort when you are my age.

 

Take Home Cakes and Other Sweet Delicacies

Take Home Cakes and Other Sweet Delicacies

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #70, #TilleyEndurables #RuggedClothing for the Adventure Minded

In June of 2013 I attended my first #TBEX (Travel Blogger Exchange) conference in Toronto Canada. It was my first conference and my first time in Canada. Ahead of time we were able to make appointments with travel companies, countries and points of interest around the world. Additionally, clothing manufacturers like Tilley Endurables were available and I was fortunate enough to secure an appointment with Tilley.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

 

At the meeting I secured my Tilley Endurables as my first sponsor and as I am fairly well known for my Panama Hat, they decided to send me two different hats of my choice to test. I have worn these all over the world in the last year and I will tell you they are very, very durable. I love smashing them flat and packing them in my suitcase and when I arrive I just pop them out to wear. They will last forever I assume.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

 

I am happy to announce that our partnership will continue and I am preparing to order additional items of clothing to test. Tilley Endurables is a great company and they stand behind their products 100%! My type of vendor.

 

Can’t wait to reach out and order, after I finish my diet and lose my extra weight. If you need a tough long lasting line of clothing take a look at their line. My earlier post today reminded me of my original post on Tilley and the hats and brought back memories of Ecuador and my Ingapirca tour.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

Photo of The Day #69, Here’s Looking at You! #Ingapirca #Historical #Ruins

In March of 2012 I visited the Incan ruins at Ingapirca, outside of Cuenca Ecuador. One can take the normal tour and if game, walk the extended tour up and beyond the ruins. It passed by the Emperor’s bath carved out of stone and through a local village. The route was at a higher altitude and really stretched us to the limit. As we rounded a corner and began going down the backside we saw this face carved in the stone,  by the Inca people,according to our guide.

 

The Face on the Mountan

The Face on the Mountan

 

It blew me away and I am not entirely sure the guide was giving us the straight story or was embellishing the tale. Regardless, it was an impressive sight and I was mesmerized by the facial features.

Photo of The Day #68, #BullyTravel #BloggerOfTheWeek #NomadicTexan #Travel #Texas #BloggerAwards14

So today I was going through my Twitter notifications and this popped up. “Nomadic Texan: Travel Blog of the Week @NomadicTexan #BloggerAwards14 #travel Article: http://www.bullytravel.com/nomadic-texan-travel-blog-week-bully-travel-041414/ …” I opened it up and found that I had been recognized for my blogging efforts. To say that I was surprised wasn’t even going to begin to express my gratitude.

 

 

I am a small time travel blogger, who doesn’t really do the SEO thing and have a few faithful followers. I am happy beyond belief and wish to thank Bully Travel for the honor of being their first ever Travel Blogger of the Week. Its not every day we get a pat on the back and told we are making a difference. Maybe its just a dream and somebody needs to wake me up. If its real, then by all means y’all come pick me up off the floor! Bully Travel thank you kindly from the bottom of my heart!

 

First Ever Bully Travel Travel Blogger of The Week

First Ever Bully Travel Travel Blogger of The Week

Photo of The Day #67, #NomadicTexan #Japan #Kamakura #Weapons

As we walked from the train to the Big Buddha, we passed a very unique shop in Kamakura Japan and it caught my eye. I was enthralled with the display of fighting swords, weapons and throwing stars that this shop held. I took a photo and probably should have shot it from an angle so as not to have the cars reflection.

 

Japanese Weapon Shop

Japanese Weapon Shop

 

Although it does kind of give it a unique visual sense. As we were in a hurry I couldn’t stop and search through the various items as I would have liked and had to be satisfied with this photo for my memory!.

Photo of The Day #66, #NomadicTexan, #Texas, #Travel, #Olives #Food, #Wine

I entered a contest sponsored by Edible Austin and won tickets to the Texas Olive Fest, located at the Texas Hill Country Olive Company grounds. The Olive company is between Bee Caves ( a suburb of Austin) and Dripping Springs, on Fitzhugh Road. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was aware that this Olive Oil company is one of the top five Olive Oil companies in the country! We arrived, obtained our tickets and walked right into a cooking class being conducted by Chef Ross Burtwell of the Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg.

 

Chef Ross Burwell's Cookbook

Chef Ross Burtwell’s Cookbook

 

I will devote an entire post later in the week with his recipes and the other things Kim and I tasted, sampled and drank. Oh did I forget to tell you, about 20 vineyards were there handing out samples, if you had tickets. Kim had a blast! As soon as the recipes go up I will publish the entire post. Trust me Chef Ross prepared a few tasty samples. This is his brand new cookbook and if you find yourself in the Texas Hill Country in Fredericksburg, give his restaurant a try!

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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