Bucket List USA #3: New Orleans

Of all the cities in the States that I haven’t been to yet, New Orleans is the one I’m most excited to visit! It’s #3 on my USA bucket list, but that’s mostly because of the obligatory nature of wanting to see New York and LA. I’ve been close to New Orleans a few times (Baton Rouge, etc.), but I’ve never been to the actual city. My mom and sister went there earlier this year as a little mom/daughter getaway, and they’ve been raving about it ever since! I think the hardest part about this post is that New Orleans is like 5 cities lumped into one because of the amount of cultural integration featured there! Combine my existing excitement with the amount of espresso I’ve had today, and you can maybe understand why I’m so jacked up right now! With all that being said, here are the things I’m most looking forward to in New Orleans!

First: The French Quarter.

As the name implies, this areas is heavily influenced by French architecture. As you now know, I love beautiful architecture, so I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the French Quarter. Most notably, I’ll be spending time on Bourbon Street, perhaps the most well-known part of the area (at least for out-of-towners like me). Speaking of architecture, the St. Louis Cathedral is located in the French Quarter, so I feel like this is going to be a must see for me!

Next: Preservation Hall.

As much as New Orleans is associated with jazz music, this will be a can’t miss part of the trip. This hall still features local artists (and I LOVE anything that’s local to the area, no matter where it is), and it has a small but intimate setting, so I’d want to take in as many shows as I could possibly fit in while here!

Last: Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo.

You knew I was going to put a museum of some sort! As I’ve constantly repeated, I just want to know more about everything, no matter who, what, or where! This building was actually used as the home to Louisiana Supreme Court (it’s history dates back further, but I thought that was most notably), but now holds historical artifacts focusing predominantly on New Orleans, but includes the whole state of Louisiana as well.

With so much to do in New Orleans, I have to give you some honorable mentions before moving on to the food! Here we go: Mardi Gras (if we’re there during the celebration), the National WWII Museum, City Park, Audubon Aquarium, and the Jean Laffite National Historical Park and Reserve. So much to do!

Now, on to the food!

  1. Seafood Gumbo
    • There’s no way I would put anything but this in first place! I read an article saying that New Orleans locals would probably consider gumbo it’s own food group!
  2. Crawfish ÉTOUFFÉE (Sorry, had to copy and paste the word because couldn’t type it)
    • This is a very close second for me! I’ve actually never had crawfish, but I’ve seen the way it’s typically prepared in a cajun-style crawfish boil, and I literally salivate every time I see it being made! Combine that into a stew and serve it over rice, and you’re talking my language!
  3. Beignets
    • I will be having a minimum of 2 beignets after every meal, please (watch out blood sugar). I’ve read that Cafe du Monde is the “oldest and most iconic beignet shop,” so you can bet your mortgage that I’ll be frequenting this shop!

I have to say, I think New Orleans was the hardest place to pick just 3 dishes, considering the amount of different cultural influences on the cuisine.

Alright friends, that’s all I have for today! Please let me know what you think and share your experiences with New Orleans if you’ve ever been!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List USA #2: Los Angeles

I have to tell you all…..I really needed a break from today to write this post! As we all know, this pandemic has wreaked a lot of havoc in everyday citizens’ lives, and Rebecca and I are no different. Today has been full of busywork at the office, but writing about my travel dreams is one thing that pulls me out of reality and lets me escape for just a little while! I think that Los Angeles is probably equal with New York on my list of places I need to visit in my home country. In many ways, the things that draw me here are similar to those of NYC: culture, history, arts, and the every day hustle and bustle of the city. With that being said, here are the three things I MUST do when our family visits LA 🙂

First: Griffith Park and Observatory.

I really didn’t know much about this attraction until doing some further research. First and foremost, I have to point something out; This place was named after a man named Griffith J. Griffith! I don’t know much about the man, but it made me want to ask his parents, “So what’s the deal with the whole ‘same name’ thing you have going on with Griffith?” I know, I’m dumb, but that fascinated me! Griffith Park is the largest state park in California and is home to a zoo, planetarium, and some of the most scenic views you can have in all of the West Coast.

Next: Hollywood.

I mean…duh! I don’t think any trip to LA would be complete without walking down the Walk of Fame, or getting to see the hillside Hollywood sign. Of course, the odds of seeing some celebrities greatly increases by going into Hollywood as well, so this is a virtual must-do for our family!

Last: Natural History Museum of LA County.

As you know well by now, my supreme interest in history definitely contributes to this attraction. One of the things I feel obligated to do in my travels is to learn more about the place I’m visiting. I don’t say “obligated” as a bad thing either, I just feel that it’s great to have more knowledge and context about the place I’m exploring. Although I’m sure I’ll spend a TON (and I mean a ton) of time in the dinosaur exhibit, there’s also an exhibit that covers 500 years worth of So-Cal history! Nerd Madison is coming out now 🙂

Here we go, my favorite part….three dishes famous in LA that I HAVE to have while I’m there! Also, I’m sure there will be a large discrepancy of opinion here considering LA is such a massive melting pot of nationalities, but we’ll make it work!

  1. French Dip Sandwich
    • This one seems to be on every list I can find about popular dishes in LA. I’m a huge fan of French dip sandwiches, so count me in for 4 or 5! I, however, don’t like my bread to be as greasy as some, so I’d rather save all the dip for the au jus sauce 🙂
  2. Sushi (specifically, the California Roll)
    • If you read my post about Tokyo, you know how much I love sushi! So, why the heck wouldn’t I devour some California roll while I’m there??
  3. In-n-Out Burger
    • How American of me lol! I’ve had In-n-Out several times during my days in college. Our baseball team would play in Arizona for 10 days before it got warm back in Illinois (where our college was), and there was an In-n-Out right next to the stadium we played in. Needless to say, since In-n-Out in a West Coast chain, we frequented this amazing burger joint. It’s definitely highly disputed which chain is the best (In-n-Out, Whataburger, Five Guys, etc…), but there’s no doubt that In-n-Out would be a staple of my trip to LA. For those of you that have never been, order your fries “animal style.” You will NOT be disappointed!

Let me know about your experiences in LA!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List USA #1: New York City

I feel like this had to be the obvious. New York City is arguably the biggest cultural hub in the U.S. (L.A. may have something to say about that), but regardless of anyone’s opinion, this is somewhere I most certainly HAVE to go! Here’s what I’ll admit: I’m a Midwest kid. I like rolling green hills, driving on highways surrounded by nothing, and the quiet lifestyle that comes along with all those things. But you must know, there’s another side of me; a side that wants to be in the hustle and bustle, the noise, and the cultural creativity that comes with big cities! In fact, I recently went to Chicago for a couple days on a business trip and said to Rebecca when I came home, “Babe, I could really see myself living in a big city for a while. Maybe not a long time, but just for a couple years to find out what it’s really like.” And while that may be a far off dream at this point, I still think that it would be great one day to live in a big city, full of life, and just see how it goes! With that being said, here are the things I want to do in New York City!

First: Statue of Liberty.

I love my country, and Lady Liberty has been a sign of universal freedom for Americans since it was gifted to us by our friends in France. We would most certainly be making advance reservations to go up to her crown, as I somehow don’t think walking around the base would be sufficient enough for me to appreciate her beauty! If any of you have been to the top, please tell me about it in the comments!!

Next: Attend Wicked on Broadway.

This has been my favorite show ever since I became interested in fine arts, and if I could only ever see one show on Broadway, this would be it! Now, ideally, I’d get to see Chicago and Hamilton while on the same trip, but the one I have to see, without a doubt, is Wicked! What’s your favorite show??

Last: 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

This is a no-brainer. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about that fateful day. I was in my 3rd grade classroom when our teacher brought us together in a circle and told us what had happened in New York. She didn’t give details, just that something terrible had happened. We had a girl in our classroom (at the time, I lived in Canton, Ohio) that had a lot of close family in New York City, so we all gathered around her and said a small prayer for her family. Of all the memories I have when I was a child, other than sports accomplishments, this day was by far the most vivid. Where were you when 9/11/ happened?

Honorable Mentions:

I’m adding this category to just list off more things I want to do for each destination, but that didn’t go in my top 3 to expand upon! Here we go! Empire State building, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, New York Public Library, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (plus much, MUCH more!)

Alright, my favorite part of the blogs….the foods that I want to have while in NYC!

  1. A hot-dog from a hot-dog cart!
    • I know, I know, a foodie that wants a hot dog?? I know it seems crazy, but I’m a baseball player, and I’ve had thousands of hot dogs in my lifetime! I can’t leave New York without getting one from one of their hundreds of hot-dog carts!
  2. Pastrami and Corned Beef Sandwich
    • Other than a well-constructed cheeseburger, there is no better sandwich than pastrami and corned beef (in my opinion, of course).
  3. New York Cheesecake
    • Let’s all collectively slobber together at the thought…I know I am! Rebecca, you better take the cake away from me after two slices, or you can bet our monthly rent that I’ll be eating the entire thing by myself!

Alright folks, that’s all I have for NYC! There’s so much to do there, it’s almost overwhelming to research everything! I still can’t believe I’ve never been there, having been born and raised in the U.S.A. My younger sister, Riley, has repeatedly told me how much she loved it and how badly she wants to go back. Lucky her! But, you can be sure that this trip will happen very soon 🙂 Please make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and leave your comments about your experiences in New York City!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #10: Edinburgh

Yesterday, we returned to Europe with our bucket list series, and today, we’re back in the UK with a bucket list destination to the capital of Scotland…Edinburgh! I’ve wanted to visit Scotland for a long time. Other than being an avid lover of architecture, I’m a huge golfer! Now, I’m not very good, but I love it enough to go out every single day if I could! That being said, St. Andrews is just over an hour from Edinburgh, and it’s widely regarded as the place that golf was born, and is home to arguably to most famous golf course in the world, St. Andrews Links. So rest assured that we will 1000% be visiting St. Andrews while on any vacation to Scotland, but first and foremost, let’s get into Edinburgh and go over the three things I absolutely must do while there!

First: The Edinburgh Castle.

This was a very easy choice. I love castles, and this is the most famous attraction in all of Scotland. What I didn’t know is how many cool things are inside, other than the beauty of the castle itself. According to planetware.com, some features of the castle include the Scottish National War memorial, the National War Museum, and the collection of Crown Jewels. Also on display is the 700+ year old Stone of Destiny, which was taken in the late 1200s by Edward I as a spoil of war, and was recently returned to Scotland in 1996. Even though it’s just a stone, I never cease to amaze myself with how much of a nerd I am when it comes to thinking about how much history that stone has been through1

Next: Arthur’s Seat.

Located at Holyrood Park, this is the highest point in the park and provides amazing views of the city! You can bet your behind that there will be many pictures taken from here! Part of my love for the UK and Ireland has been the shear beauty of the nature. Don’t get me wrong, I think nature is beautiful regardless of where you are, but I haven’t been to many places where I can just look at the hills and valleys and just be left speechless.

Last: The Royal Mile.

This was just as easy of a choice as the Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Mile is referred to as such because it’s a series of roads linking the Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. I want to spend a lot of time in this area of the city because it’s home to several historical buildings like St. Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament building, and the Heart of Midlothian (not a building, but still historically significant).

Now, let’s talk about some dishes I’d like to try while in Scotland! Before I dive into that, the first part of my “cuisine” section has to include the number of pubs on the Royal Mile! As I said yesterday, I’m a beer guy, so these pubs will be frequented while on our stay 🙂

  1. Haggis
    • Known as the Scottish national dish, this is a must try while in Edinburgh. I will admit that this may not sound very appealing, but as a foodie, I’m very open to the possibility of anything tasting good if prepared correctly! The best description I can find of haggis is the organ meat from a sheep that’s minced with onion, oats for texture, and suet (a type of fat). It doesn’t sound appealing at all, but I know enough about the ingredients to know it seems like a winning combination, so I’d be ready for it! Rebecca and Griffin might have a little harder time, but I’m more open 🙂
  2. Black Pudding
    • Now this I’m extremely excited about! I’d never had black pudding (for my American friends, blood sausage) until I went to Ireland, and I absolutely loved it. I had both black pudding and white pudding, but the black was definitely my favorite. I made sure to get three or four patties every time we went out somewhere for breakfast that had it.
  3. Cranachan
    • Somewhat of an adult dessert, there are several takes on this dish, but the recurring one I can find seems to be a mixture of whipped cream, honey, fresh raspberries, and whisky (there’s your “adult” part of the dessert). Then, it’s topped with toasted oats that have been soaked overnight in whisky. Like I said, there were several variations I found; chocolate, orange, hazelnut, etc…, but I like the original with the raspberries!

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed my bucket list post about Edinburgh! Please make sure to comment below if you’ve ever been and if there’s something our community should be sure to visit while we’re there!

Also, my first 10 bucket list posts have all been in foreign countries, but there are so many amazing places here in the U.S. that I’ve never been to, so next week, I’m going to have a 5 day series call “Bucket List USA,” where I go through the 5 places I want to visit the most in my home country. Have a great weekend everyone!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #9: Brussels

So, we’re back in Europe today, for a little look into what I’d like to do when our family visits the capital of the European Union, Brussels! I didn’t refer back to my previous posts for this one, but I believe Brussels was on our list of destinations we wanted to visit when we were planning a nice little month to two month long trip. While Rebecca ruled it out pretty quickly, it stuck with me as somewhere very unique that I definitely want to see soon! Part of it’s appeal to me is that it’s not a mainstream vacation destination that most people in the States talk about. I’ve heard some people from here talking about Bruges or Ghent, but I actually don’t think I’ve met anyone that’s been to Brussels. With that roundabout intro paragraph, here are three things I want to do in Brussels!

First: Grand Place.

The main plaza in downtown Brussels has an illustrious history, with most of the buildings having been built in the 16-1700s. It’s history actually goes back to the 11th century, but it was later established as the epicenter of politics and economics in Belgium.

Next: Here’s a different one for ya….the Belgian Comic Strip Center.

This is definitely the most outside the box attraction that I’ve suggested visiting since starting the blog! From what I can read, there are about 200 rotating exhibits, ranging from comic strip drawings to manuscripts and reconstructed sets. How fun! There may be some more historically significant things to do while in Brussels, but this is something very outside the box that would be awesome for a lighter and relaxing day 🙂

Last: Palais Royal.

This is the official residence of the Belgian Royal Family. I’ll make sure to post a picture of this on Instagram so you can see how gorgeous it is. This would have to be a summer trip, as the palace is only open for tourists during a select range of time in the summer. But now, on to my favorite part of my new format……here are three dishes I’m looking forward to when visiting Brussels!

  1. Frites/Fries
    • Here’s a funny legend for you. There’s a rumor that U.S. soldiers ate these during WWII, and mistakenly thought they were in France (no idea how that could’ve happened), but gave them the name French fries when they came home. Regardless, several websites I’ve seen have mentioned this at the top of their list, so I’d be curious to see if their take is different than what we have here in the States!
  2. The most obvious choice….waffles!
    • The waffles in Belgium are said to have deeper grooves to hold more of whatever your topping of choice is, and that they’re a bit less doughy and a bit crispier. I’m salivating, by the way. Waffles are easily in my top 3 foods to have for breakfast, so this is an absolute no-brainer!
  3. Carbonnades flamades
    • A hearty beef stew fortified with beer (duh) instead of wine, usually served with a side of those frites I mentioned earlier! While I’m on the topic of beer……you can rest assured that there will be many a pint consumed while in Belgium! Don’t worry, I’ll spread it out over a few days so I’m not a drunken idiot, but this is perhaps the “cuisine” I’m most looking forward to!

Alright everyone, that’s what I’m excited for when visiting Brussels! As always, if you’ve ever been, please let me know how your experience was, and leave some useful tips about your trip that our community can use going forward 🙂

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #8: Tokyo

So far, my previous 7 bucket list destinations have all been in Europe, so I thought it would be nice to go somewhere completely different on today’s post, and go to a fan favorite: Tokyo! Every single person I know that’s been to Japan has loved it. Most of them have been to Tokyo, but no matter which part of Japan they’ve been to, they’ve all loved it. This would easily be the most culturally different trip that I’ve been on. I’ve been to the Caribbean, but mainly the touristy resorts, and Ireland much culturally close to the States. It was definitely different, but not enough to feel like I didn’t belong. I’m extremely curious what a trip to somewhere as culturally different as Japan. Not to say I wouldn’t feel welcome! I’m certain I would, but it’s still an interesting thought! With that being said, here are 3 attractions and 3 dishes I want to try while in Tokyo!

First: Ginza District.

This is the epicenter of shopping in Tokyo, being called “as iconic as Times Square” by planetware.com. This is where most people get their photo-op in while visiting Tokyo, and I’m incredibly excited to walk through the district, if for no other reason than to take in the amazing ambiance of the city!

Next: The SensŌ-ji Temple (sorry about the O, I can’t find the correct letter so I copy and pasted it lol).

This is Tokyo’s most famous shrine, having been built in 645 AD….I’m nerding SO hard right now. I’ve had fun writing about places that have been around since the 1100s, but this is a whole new level! Now, I did read that it’s been rebuilt before due to damage from WWII, but it’s retained it’s original appearance, and I’d be thrilled to visit this amazing temple. It’s also the most visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million annual visitors!

Last: Tokyo National Museum.

Built in the early 1900s, this museum has works of art dating back to the 6th century. Most of the bucket list locations I list have a museum of some kind on my list, whether it’s history or art related. That being said, I think I’d be most excited to go to this museum due to the difference in culture and see the Japanese take on art vs. European!

I won’t write in further detail about this one, but I do have an honorable mention for places that I want to visit: The Meiji Shrine!

Now, as you know, I love food and am almost as excited about the food of these destinations as I am the vacation itself! With that said, here are three dishes I’m looking forward to on our visit to Tokyo!

  1. Sushi, sushi, sushi!
    • I love it, love it, love it! My taste buds are so freakin’ weird. I used to hate sushi, but after I graduated from college, I started trying food that we weren’t exposed to very often when I was younger. Once I tried a sushi roll that I actually liked, it was all downhill from there! Every time we go out for any type of Asian food, sushi is a must, so this is by far and away #1.
  2. Ramen
    • I can only imagine what ramen enthusiasts think when they see the packaged stuff that we destroy every day in our college dorms! But, I’ve seen several dozens of recipes of authentic ramen, and I couldn’t be more excited to try it!
  3. Unagi no Kobayaki
    • Any “Friends” fans in here that just made the signal that Rachel and Phoebe make? If not, go watch the clip on Youtube so you know what I’m talking about. This dish sounds unbelievably mouthwatering. Basically, it’s deboned eel that’s broiled and basted with soy sauce. Not too complicated, but it sounds fantastic!

Alright everyone, those are all the things I want to do and taste in Tokyo! If you’ve ever been, tell me about your experience below or on social media!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #7: Moscow

See, I told you you’d see some more Eastern European cities this week! Here’s what I want to do however; lately, I’ve been posting every day about a destination that’s on my bucket list, and I’m going to continue doing so, but with a slight change. Most of my posts have been me picking out 3 places I’d like to visit and writing a paragraph about that particular place. I do, however, feel as if I’m just regurgitating some information that’s readily available on other websites, so I’m going to make a small change. I’m still going to do my bucket list posts (along with reviews once we’re done with quarantine and are able to go on more vacations). The format will be as follows: 1) An introductory paragraph into why I want to visit the destination. 2) Three places I want to go while I’m there, but instead of giving a complete history, I might just write a sentence or two about why I want to visit that particular attraction. Most of the writing I do involves research from Wikipedia and planetware.com. Planetware is great because they have reviews and attractions of almost everywhere you can think of visiting, so make sure to visit their website to get some more back story of the places I write about! 3) This will be my favorite part. I’m going to write about my three favorite dishes from this area that I want to try/have tried and love! I’m a huge food junkie, so this will be a very exciting part for me to write about! So, without further ado, here are the places I want to visit in Moscow!

First: Kremlin.

More specifically, I’d like to see the armory chamber and the Patriarch’s Palace. The whole compound is a gorgeous work or architecture, having been built in the 1400s. You know I’m a history nut, so this would keep me nerded out the whole time!

Next: Lenin’s Mausoleum.

This was one that I thought was incredibly interesting! Vladimir Lenin’s body is preserved and on public display in the sarcophagus, and visitors can go free of charge. Regardless of anyone’s views on Lenin’s political stances, I think it would be really cool to see the resting place of a former world leader.

Last: Red Square (St. Basil’s Cathedral)

I have a tremendous love for older architecture, and St. Basil’s Cathedral is no exception. Built in the 1500s, it has 9 chapels inside the church itself. Red Square is the center of Moscow, so this would be a great place to walk around and get a feel for the culture of the city.

Now, let’s talk about food! Here are three dishes I want to try in Moscow!

  1. Varenniki
    • From what I can see, I’d say they most compare to something like and empanada. It can be stuffed with something savory or something sweet. This is ideal for me because it’s got everything you want in one bite! Meat, cheese, bread, etc. Or, if you want, make it sweet and have a desert! I, personally, could have a meal consisting entirely of these! Give me the savory for dinner, and the sweet for desert!
  2. Beef Stroganoff
    • I mean…duh.
  3. Chicken Kiev
    • Similar to chicken cordon bleu, minus the ham, and add mushrooms and egg yolk. My mouth is absolutely watering looking at pictures of it!

Let me know what you think of the new format, and make sure to interact with us on social media! We’re active all the time, so be sure to leave a comment about any trips you’ve taken to Moscow (or Russia in general), and let us know what your favorite part was!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #6: Berlin

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you’re all staying safe in the midst of all the craziness going on in the world! These circumstances have taught me better than ever to be thankful for everything I have and to not take this life for granted. Although I’m not afflicted by this disease, it all goes to show us how quickly and greatly our lives can be altered. However, with this being a travel blog, it also gives credence to the fact that Rebecca and I want to see everywhere as soon as possible, because none of us know when our time will come, or when our opportunity to see some awesome places will pass. This should renew our vigor to pursue the rest of the world! With that being said, I’d like to dive into the best places I want to visit when our family visits the economic power of the EU, Germany! (More specifically, Berlin!)

First: The Brandenburg Gate

As we’ve all clearly come to know, I’m a huge history buff, and the Brandenburg will satisfy that craving immediately upon arrival to Berlin. Built in 1788, the Gate now signifies peace and unity in Europe. When the gate was originally built, only the royal family was allowed to actually pass through it (along with one other family, Pfuel, which you’re welcome to look more into. Too long for this article!). In the 20th century, the Nazis used this gate as a symbol for their party. At the end of WWII, people could freely travel through this gate until 1961, when the Berlin was underwent construction. When the wall was knocked down in 1989, travel was restored and this is when the Gate undertook the symbol of peace and unity in Germany. Many websites I’ve visited have named the Brandenburg Gate as the number one place to visit while in Berlin, and that’s most certainly what I’ll do!

Next: Jewish Museum Berlin

First and foremost, this building is one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever seen. Check my Instagram for a picture of it! I thought this museum would be an awesome experience because of the long struggles undertaken by Jewish Germans. This is also the largest Jewish museum in Europe. While this building is much more modern than anything I’ve suggested so far on this blog, the story about how it got here is quite remarkable. The original Jewish Museum in Berlin was built in 1933, but was seized a few years later by Nazi Gestapo. In the late 1980s, the idea for a design of a new museum came to life, and after holding an anonymous competition for the rights to design the building, it was reconstructed in 1999 and opened refilled with inventory in 2001. The museum has been under controversy lately, however. I don’t want to get into the specifics on here so as not to offend any readers based on their perspective, but it’s definitely worthy of some research if you care to dive a bit deeper into that.

Last: German Museum of Technology

I don’t think a trip to Germany would be complete without acknowledging and admiring their unbelievable technological and industrial work over the past few decades. Germany is the number one exporter of cars in the world by a very wide margin, and their vehicles are widely accepted as the most reliable (I’m sure there are those that disagree, but…oh well!). From planetware.com, the museum has several vehicles and air crafts that are on display, and they also have steam engines dating back to the late 1800s.

I think the most exciting part of the visit to Germany would be the fact that I’ve loved every German dish/beer that I’ve ever tasted! Needless to say, there would be an enormous amount of eating involved on this trip! Sauerbraten, Bratwurst, Schnitzel, Spatzle, you name it, I want it all! I know this wasn’t to most extensive post I’ve had so far, and I must admit, it’s totally my fault. I know much more about Western Europe than I do Eastern Europe, and that’s just because I’m more familiar with the culture. Doing research on this post has made me want to get into Eastern Europe much more, and I fully intend to do so. Don’t be surprised if you see a few more Eastern European cities this week 🙂

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #5: Prague

Prague was another idea that came from the trip Rebecca and I were planning a while back. Although you now know that we didn’t go on that trip, we spent a couple weeks just searching for a quality destination. Had we gone on the trip, we would have gone to Rome. We ended up planning our finances around that being our destination. When that didn’t work out though, I had myself a nice little list of places to consider for future trips. This allows us to research places that we never would have thought of, and one of those places was Prague! It’s a place that anyone I know that’s been there has talked about how beautiful it is, but I don’t think I’d ever considered it as a touristy destination, at least in the small bubble that I lived it. However, this was fun to research, and here are a few things that we MUST do when our family visits Prague!

First: Charles Bridge.

This pictures of this bridge are magnificent, and it’s one of many architectural masterpieces in the Czech Republic. The bridge is suspended over the Vltava River, the longest river in the country. One really cool fun fact about this bridge is the legend surrounding the exact time at which construction began. At the time, King Charles was fond of the power of numbers. The believed time of constructions was 5:31 a.m., on July 9th, 1357. The way dates and times were displayed (obviously different from the U.S.) would’ve made that date look like this: 1357 9, 7 5:31, effectively forming a palindrome (a number or word that looks the same backwards as it does forwards. I don’t know why he was so fond of numbers, but I thought that was a super interesting story! There are 30 statues along the bridge symbolizing different historical figures. Unfortunately, the statues are all replicas, as the originals are in the National Museum, also located in Prague (I’ll most certainly visit the National Museum, but I’ve written about quite a few museums already).

Next: St. Vitus Cathedral.

While I’m at St. Vitus, I’d be able to kill two birds with one stone, as this cathedral is located on the property of the Prague Castle, which is the number 1 ranked tourist destination in Prague according to planetware.com. St. Vitus is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague, and it’s the largest church in the country. While work on the cathedral started in the mid 1300s, it wasn’t officially completed until 1929, meaning that the project was never “officially” completed, although the cathedral was functional and would largely appear to be a finished product for most people. Another cool things about this church is that it’s the burial site for several Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors. This is also the location of the tomb of St. Vitus himself, and of St. John of Nepomuk (fascinating read). Visitors are welcome to attend mass, and you can also climb the cathedrals main tower to get phenomenal views over the city, two things that I would most certainly take advantage of upon visiting!

Last: Old Town Square.

There’s so much to do at Old Town Square, I almost couldn’t narrow down where I’d want to go! The history of this small area is amazing. One of the cooler things I found was a statue in the center of Old Town Square dedicated to Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake for his religious views. If you have a couple minutes, search “Jan Hus” and read his Wikipedia page. I know not everything form Wikipedia is completely accurate, but the story itself is simply amazing. Perhaps the coolest thing I found about this area is Prague Orloj (or, Prague astronomical clock). This clock is 1) Humongous, 2) Beautiful, and 3) The 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world (1410), and the oldest one that’s still active. If you follow me on Instagram, check out the picture of this amazing clock! This would also, be a fantastic place to visit over Christmas because the Christmas Market in Prague is ranked as one of the top 10 worldwide! Rebecca and I live across the street from a major Christmas market in Indiana, so this would be a really cool sight to see, especially since the perspective may be different being in a different country!

So, I’m done for today, but I wanted to say thank you to anyone that’s been reading! I hope I’m providing good enough content for you, but I’ve also had a blast just researching these places and thinking about the awesome time my family will have when we can visit and report back to you all about our time there!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #4: Cardiff

Yes, I’m staying in the United Kingdom with today’s post, and yes, I will venture out into other parts of the world. This, however, is my obsession at the moment! I imagine that Rebecca and I will eventually take Griffin (and baby #2) on a big trip to Europe at some point. I honestly feel like I could move to the UK for a little while to get ingrained in a culture other than the U.S. (I love the States, but I just think it would be super fun to live somewhere else for a while). The trouble with that is how much Rebecca and I want want Griffin to have a great relationship with his grandparents and cousins that are all within 45 minutes of us. For now, I’ll settle for small chunks of time. Today, I’m going to be talking about Cardiff, Wales, a place that I didn’t know much about until a few months ago. During the fall of 2019, Rebecca and I decided that we really wanted to go on a long vacation. Meaning, we wanted to be away for a month or so. I don’t know what really got us to that point, but we just wanted to get away. We began looking for destinations, from South American places like Buenos Aires, to many different European places like London, Rome, Brussels, and Copenhagen. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an opportunity to do this because of normal life circumstances, but the one place that we both seemed to like while doing some research was Cardiff. It’s difficult to explain why, but Cardiff didn’t seem like the place someone would think of when planning a trip to Europe. That made it more exciting because it wasn’t really a mainstream destination. However, when comparing the costs, along with the fact that we had Griffin going with us, this seemed like a nice place to take a family. Here’s my top places I would HAVE to go to if and when we visit Cardiff!

First: Cardiff Castle.

Are you noticing the same thing I am with all these places in Europe? Castles! They’re freaking amazing! I’m so mesmerized by the history behind these castles; how old they are, who once lived here, the wars that took place around them, everything about them! The Cardiff Castle is the top rated destination in Cardiff on several websites I visited, and I couldn’t be more excited to visit when we go! From what I’ve been reading, this castle was built in the 11th century (which is insanely old in it’s own right), and the land it was built on was a 3rd century Roman fort! I’m nerding out so hard right now. I still can’t believe how much I love history compared to when I was in school. I used to dread it. Now, I can’t wait to dig deeper on a particular landmark and find out not only what, but also, who, when, and why! If you like history at all, I implore you to research this castle! Even if it’s just on Wikipedia or something like that. This castle has been through almost 1,000 years of history. It’s crazy to me how old we think people are that are 100, and all the history that they’ve been through. This place has been here for almost 10x that!

Next: Principality Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium.

I told you, I’m a sports nut! Principality is where the Welsh rugby team plays, and boy do the Welsh take rugby seriously! Also, fun fact, I had no idea that the people of Wales were referred to as Welsh until Rebecca and I researched this trip. Then we have Cardiff City Stadium, where Cardiff City FC of the English Football League Championship (one step below the top league in association football) plays its home matches. About a year ago, I would turn on the tv on Saturdays before college football would start. During that time, other than listening to previews for the day’s games, the only sport on would be rugby from the Six Nations Championship (a rugby league in which the national teams from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, England, and Italy play each other). I became fascinated because the object of the game seemed so simple, although I’m sure it’s much more complex. I really enjoyed these parts of my morning because I was able to watch something that most Americans don’t really care about unless they’re from another country. The Welsh rugby team is the current champions of the Six Nations Championship, and they have the most overall titles out of the six nations that compete. How’s that for intense?! Another thing I’d love to take in is a football/soccer match from Cardiff City FC. What would be even more amazing is to see a match between Cardiff City and Swansea City, their biggest rival located about an hour west of Cardiff, and the 2nd largest city in the country.

Last: EVERY OTHER CASTLE!

I know, this feels like a cop-out answer, but I genuinely want to visit so many of the castles in or near Cardiff. I read that Wales has the highest concentration of castled in the UK, and there are dozens of castles within an hour drive of Cardiff. How amazing! I can’t write in detail about all of the castles, but here are the ones that make my list! 1) Caerphilly Castle, built in the 1600s and only 15 minutes from Cardiff. 2) Castell Coch, built in the 1800s on a site that had originally built a castle in the 1000s, and only a 20 minutes drive from Cardiff. 3) Ogmore Castle, built in the 1100s and just over 30 minutes from Cardiff. 4) Raglan Castle, built in the 1400s and about 40 minutes from Cardiff. And lastly, 5) Chepstow Castle, one of the the oldest castles in Great Britain, built in 1067, and less than 40 minutes from Cardiff! I seriously think I could take a trip to Wales and do nothing but castle-hop the entire time. What amazing works of art and centers of history.

Blessings,
Madison