Bucket List #20: Iceland

Today, we make a pretty significant jump in both population and overall size of country. Yesterday, we talked about Andorra, a country with a population of 77,000 and 470 square kilometers to Iceland, a country with a population of about 341,000 and over 100,000 square kilometers. Worldometers.info does have the Isle of Man and the Channel Island listed as well, and while I’m not writing about them because they aren’t countries, I’ve at least mentioned the other territories, so here’s me shouting out those two as well! Since Iceland is so much bigger than the countries we’ve been talking about, I’ve decided to narrow this one down to one city. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to get around, considering it’s only the size of Kentucky, but it’s still significantly bigger than the previous countries. With that being said, I’m going to focus specifically on the capital city, Reykjavík. Wherever we chose, there HAD to be a clear way of seeing the Northern Lights, and I found that you can see them either in Reykjavík, or near that area. I’m not going to write further about the Northern Lights, as I’m sure that’s a given for almost anyone that’s going to visit Iceland! However, here are 3 more things we want to do on a trip to Iceland.

First: Hallgrímskirkja Church

This was definitely the most universal “#1” I found on any list about the best places to visit in Reykjavík. You can ride to the top of the 74 meter steeple or hear the gigantic pipe organ (25 tons!). This magnificent church took over 40 years to finish construction, and I’m reading that it’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside!

Next: Take in a concert at the Harpa Concert Hall

As a fine arts lover, I want to enjoy beautiful music in every iconic concert venue I possibly can, and Harpa is no exception. This is, however, the newest of the venues I’ve written about, having been completed in 2011. The building is very eclectic in it’s appearance as well, having a honeycomb-type pattern on the outside that change colors throughout the night. Even if I don’t see a concert here, the area it’s located in is beautiful and the building itself is worth the view!

Last: Arbaer Open Air Museum

You thought I was going to end this one without a museum, didn’t you? Hey, if you’re not a museum person, this one is at least a little different than the others! This is a tour of a village and farm full of historical and authentic Icelandic homes, and it was awarded the country’s museum of the year in 2006. There were several other museums that looked promising, including The Settlement Exhibition, which takes a dive into the history of the Vikings through historical artifacts. “How to Train Your Dragon” was one of my favorite Disney movies, so I basically know everything there is to know about Vikings, right?…..Kidding, but this would be close second for my museum choice of this trip.

Alright, this should be interesting. I, again, know nothing about this country’s food, so this took some exploring! Here we go…here are 3 foods we want to have while we’re in Iceland.

  1. Kjötsupa
    • This is a hearty lamb soup made with cheap, tough cuts of lamb, onion, garlic, parsley, carrots, potatoes, oats, and a few other herbs and spices. Here’s a delicious recipe I found for you to peek at: https://www.thespruceeats.com/kjotsupa-icelandic-lamb-soup-2952929
    • Also, I’m going to try to link to other blogs as often as possible for two reasons.
      1. It helps that persons’ blog grow by linking to their website
      2. It allows you to see the full recipe instead just my short snip-its!
  2. Svið
    • I have no idea how to pronounce that word, but Google translate tells me that it means….wait for it…..sheep’s head! And by head, I literally mean that it’s the head of a sheep on a plate. Now, I admit that I may not be as excited to try this as other dishes, but it’s wildly different than anything I’ve seen in the States, so for adventure’s sake, I’m game for this! Although I’m sure it’s biased, I saw some articles saying that the cheek of the sheep is the tastiest meat one can have, so I definitely want to find out!
  3. Hrútspungar
    • If you thought number 2 was adventurous, wait until you hear this. Hrútspungar is……….Sour…….Ram’s…….Testicles! I have to be honest, I didn’t know that that could be made into a dish. What’s even stranger to me is that this seems to be more of a delicacy served on special occasions! I do admit that 2 and 3 were definitely the most bold choices I could have made, but the fact that this is a dish I could actually order amazes me. Here’s to adventure!

This was a fun one! Although there are countries ranked ahead of Iceland in terms of my top 3 attractions I’d like to visit, I think that there are more “honorable mentions” here than any other place. There were at least 5 other things I found that would be extremely interesting to me, but I have a schedule and I’m sticking to it 🙂 Thank you all for reading! Have a great weekend!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #19: Andorra

I love France, and I love Spain, so how about a country landlocked by both? That’s right! Today, we’re talking about Andorra, the largest of the European microstates, and coming in with a population of just over 77,000. Also, as I’ve said before, I’m getting my info from worldometers.info, which has the Faroe Islands listed before Andorra, but I’m only including recognized countries and not territories. I’m sure they’re just as great! But for simplicity’s sake, just countries. Although, that does give me an idea for a future series on island territories! Anyways, Andorra is a country that I know very little about, and while I’ve said that about a lot of my posts lately, I really prefer it this way! This forces me to research and develop a better understanding of places that I know virtually nothing about, and I hope that some of my thoughts and dreams have a positive impact on all of you 🙂 Here are 3 things we want to do in Andorra!

First: Spend the day in Andorra la Vella

As the capital city of Andorra, this city is small enough to get around just by walking, but still offers all the beauty and allure of a capital city. One of the things I love about these small countries is that one of the “attractions” I write in these posts can literally be an entire city! I come from smalltown Midwest, so I’m used to places like these! They’re our comfort zone 🙂 Some highlights of a visit to Andorra la Vella would include: Església de Sant Esteve (11th-12th century church), Casa de la Vell (seat of the government built in 1580), and of course…shop! (I’ve read that there’s a bustling shopping disctrict)

Next: Centre Termolúdic Caldea

I never would’ve guessed that this would be in Andorra. This building is home to the largest spa complex in Europe! Full of saunas, jacuzzis, indoor and outdoor lagoons, all different kinds of treatment and therapies, this will be MUCH needed after a long flight and a day walking around Andorra la Vella!

Last: Santa Coloma Church

Andorra has several very old Catholic churches, and Santa Coloma is the oldest. The main part of the building dates back to the 9th century (some references say 8th), and the tower was built in the 12th. The tremendous amount of history this church has been through makes the trip to visit worth it. There are also murals that used to be in the church that are housed in the Andorran Government Exhibition Hall, although Wikipedia (I know, I know) says that there are still visual remnants of those murals in the church today.

I feel like I’ve gotten a little more colorful with my food descriptions lately. Have I? Tell me in the comments if you’ve been reading along 🙂 Here are 3 foods we’re going to try in Andorra!

  1. Escudella
    • This is universally accepted as the country’s national dish. It’s served primarily in the winter, and is a hearty stew full of veggies, pasta, several different meats like sausage, chicken, and pork.
    • Side note – I feel like most countries I write about are notorious for a certain type of soup or stew, which is strange to me because the States aren’t huge on those. I mean, we love them! But they probably wouldn’t be in the top 20 dishes associated with the USA.
  2. Cargols
    • I’ll admit, I’ve never had snails before, but I’m open to it because they’re so popular in Andorra. From what I can find, they’re traditionally oven-baked and served with garlic mayonnaise. I don’t know if I’ll like them, but the garlic mayo will sure help!
  3. Crema Andorrana
    • Time for dessert! This is the Andorran take on crème brûlée, with the exception being that the traditional torched sugar on top is replaced with a big dollop of whipped cream. I know it sounds strange, but I actually don’t prefer torched sugar, so this will make the dessert that much better for me!

Okay friends, that’s all I have for Andorra! If you enjoyed this or have ever been, make sure to drop a comment down below! Also, make sure to follow us on all of our social media accounts to keep up with us! Have a great rest of your night 🙂

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #18: Monaco

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a great day 🙂 My evening posts are most likely going to become the norm with work starting to return. Although our employees aren’t back to work yet, due to state restrictions, we have been preparing for when we return to work, which has cut into the normal afternoon writing time. That being said, I’m still committing to writing a post every day, Monday-Friday! I’ll just have to wait until we put our young one down to get going. However, I’m really excited about today’s post! Coming in at a population just above 39,000, we have Monaco! I’ve only ever heard amazing things about this country, so it’s definitely got my gears turning about what this trip will be like! Here are the 3 things our family would want to do on a trip to Monaco:

First: Spend a day in Monte Carlo.

We would definitely want to stay in the Hotel de Paris, and I would most certainly want to be here AT LEAST a whole day, if not more! I can’t imagine a scenario in which this trip would be cheap, so we might as well blow it out in this beacon of beauty and glamour. I envision a trip to Casino de-Monte Carlo, enjoying a meal or two at one of the three Michelin-starred restaurants, and maybe spotting a celebrity or two! We might have to start saving now for this one…

Next: Musée Oceanographique

I know, I always have a museum on my posts, but this one is just pure magic! This museum is more of an aquarium than an actual museum, and has 3 separate aquariums (Tropical, Mediterranean, and Shark Lagoon). It houses several thousand species of exotic fish, and has a rooftop restaurant offering a panoramic view of the coastline! One of the coolest parts: It’s been here for over 100 years! Besides it being right on the coast and being simply gorgeous, I personally love going to aquariums!

Last: Formula One Grand Prix

As you know, our family loves sports, and this is an absolute no brainer! We currently live in Carmel, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. If you know anything about Indy, you’ll know that every year, it plays host to the biggest racing event in the world: The Indy 500. We aren’t huge racing fans, but we’re fans of anything that brings that comes with that kind of magnitude! As much as we love watching Indycar, we’d love to see it going through the streets of Monaco instead of in a circle like Indy! (We love watching the Indy 500, it would just be cool to see a change)

Alright, now let’s talk about 3 dishes we want to try while in Monaco!

  1. Barbajuan
    • This is the national dish of Monaco, and is similar to a fritter or empanada that’s stuffed with ricotta and some sort of greens like spinach or Swiss chard. Some preparations vary by adding in onions, leeks, or rice, but the cheese and greens are a must! I can confidently say that I could consume 10 of these in one sitting…..Not that I should! But I probably could.
  2. Gnocchi
    • While it’s not necessarily native to Monaco, it’s on every list I can find about the most popular foods in the country. I could eat gnocchi every single day of the year. As much as I wish i was kidding, I totally could! Count me in for every version of gnocchi I can find while in Monaco!
  3. Porchetta
    • I’m ashamed to admit….I’ve never actually had porchetta! I’ve seen it made several hundred times on YouTube, and it looks positively fantastic! If you aren’t aware, porchetta is a rolled, boneless pork belly that’s stuffed with herbs and spices (several different variations, but this is what I would like), and roasted until tender with a super crispy skin on the outside! Okay, who’s coming with us?!

This country looks absolutely magnificent! I will say, this looks to be one of the more expensive trips I’ve written about, so we’ll start tucking our change away right now so we can go and fill you all in! Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of your evening 🙂

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #17: Liechtenstein

This was an interesting one for me. Mostly because I knew absolutely NOTHING about this country before I started researching for this post. I do want to put out a side note really quickly. I’m using the population numbers from worldometers.info, and the website has the population of Gibraltar listed as being lower than San Marino. I did, however, confirm that Gibraltar is technically a territory and not a country. I just wanted to put this out there in case anyone wanted to check and see what I’m getting my info and why I didn’t include Gibraltar, but now, let’s get on to the fascinating little country of Liechtenstein! (population: ~38,000)

First: Gutenberg Castle

Built around the year 1100, this castle is beautifully preserved and is open to the public, as it’s not currently occupied as a residence. If you’ve read even one my blogs, you know that this is a no brainer for me! First of all….the year 1100?? Holy cow! The history alone intrigues me to the max. Best of all? It’s free! Everyone can do free 🙂 there are also open air concerts hosted at this venue, so we would definitely want to take in some music with this amazing work of art in the background!

Next: Liechtenstein National Museum

Located in the capital city, Vaduz, this beautiful building was constructed in the 15th century as an inn, and is chock full of historical artifacts that pre-date the country’s history, and it’s also attached to the Postal Museum, which displays every postage stamp that’s been issued in Liechtenstein’s history. That may or may not interest you, but I thought it was cool!

Last: The Liechtenstein Festival

The Liechtenstein Festival is a two day event held in the city of Shaan, which is one of the country’s oldest cities. Full of music and local food, this would be an unbelievable way to get to know the culture, and, if I may say, have fun partying with the true Liechtensteiners! The only other festival we’ve written about is Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, so we figured we could have fun at another party or two in the locations we’re writing about 🙂

Now, on to the food! This is part of the “I knew nothing about this country” that I was talking about earlier. Liechtenstein is landlocked by Austria and Switzerland, two countries that I also have no idea about the food culture, so I didn’t even have a reference point to jump from. At least with San Marino, I could basically assume they ate Italian food! But aside from all that, here are three foods we’re going to try in Liechtenstein!

  1. Kaesknoepfle
    • This is a traditional pasta dish that’s combined with melted cheese, and served with fried onions on top. What more do we need? Carbs, cheese, and something fried! That could almost be it’s own holy trinity (you know, like onion, celery, and bell pepper is to Cajun cooking?).
  2. Jugged venison with Knoepfle
    • There are a few variations of this recipe that I found (some far different that others) but I found one thing to be common: the dish features venison that is floured, browned, and put in a pot full of vegetables, filled with red wine to deglaze the pan and provide extra richness, and served with on top of Knoepfle, a regional pasta dish similar to German spaetzle.
  3. Ribel
    • While I didn’t find this to be particularly excited, it does sound versatile and delicious! This is a cornmeal dish in which butter, milk, and water are emulsified and brought to a boil, the cornmeal is stirred in, and when the Ribel has “set,” its put back on the heat again to roast, turning it into a sort of crumble that’s served with different fruits like elderberry sauce and apple compote.

As an honorable mention for the food, I have to say that we’re very excited for the beer in Liechtenstein as well! This region of the world is extremely popular for their beer, and Liechtenstein is no exception! There are 3 active microbreweries in the country, the most popular being Liechtensteiner Brewhaus. With 25 different beers being brewed at this brewery, there will be no shortage of samples being had!

Alright my friends, that’s all I have for Liechtenstein! Can I admit something to you? This was the most fun post that I’ve written yet! It’s partially because I had zero frame of reference, so everything I learned was brand new, but also because the writing community, as a whole, has been so supportive since we started this blog, and we couldn’t be thankful for every one that reads and supports us 🙂 You all are the best!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #16: San Marino

Alright everyone! We’re back with another week full of our family’s bucket list destinations, and we decided on an interesting theme than can be applied again to other continents in the future…..We’re going to write about the things we want to do in the smallest countries in Europe! I don’t know how we came up with it, but I got to thinking the other day: Most of the places I’ve written about are considered tourist destinations. Like, it wouldn’t be uncommon for someone to suggest a visit to those places (maybe Lima and Medellín). However, I thought it would be interesting to visit the smallest countries in Europe because they aren’t necessarily considered to be super touristy places. For this theme, we didn’t count Holy See, which technically is the smallest country with a population of just over 800. I talked about this in my post about Rome, so we didn’t feel it necessary to go over it again. As the title suggests, our first country is San Marino, coming in with a population of just under 34,000, and also considered the world’s oldest sovereign state. I did find it fascinating that Italy has two recognized countries that are landlocked within Italy itself (Vatican City/Holy See and San Marino)! Anyways, let’s talk about what we would do on a trip to San Marino!

First: Rocca Guaita

Rocca Guaita is a fortress that sits on the hill of the capital city, San Marino (anyone else think it’s strange when a country’s capital city has the same name?) This fortress was built in the 11th century (my history nerd senses are tingling) as a prison, and while it takes quite a bit of stair climbing to get to it, one looks at its amazing panoramic views tells me all I need to know about its beauty. So, we’ll definitely go see this beautiful fortress, but we’ll make sure to have a pair of shorts and some sturdy shoes to get there 🙂

Next: Palazzo Pubblico

This is the official government building, the town hall, and is located on the city square, known as Piazza della Libertà. During the day, there is an official “changing of the guard,” which is an extremely popular ceremony to watch for visitors! (Let me also tell you that my architectural nerd senses are popping off right now as well)

Last: Museo di Stato

You knew a museum was coming, didn’t you? As the national museum of San Marino, this houses over 5,000 works of art and archaeological finds dating back to the 1600s. As several websites I’ve researched have pointed out, a lot of the art was received as a donation from governments surrounding San Marino to show admiration for the Republic. Not that that’s a bad thing, but some of the language portraying this act made it sound like a big brother telling a little brother, “Here ya go little guy, I’ll let you have this.” I could be completely wrong about that! That’s just the sentiment I got.

While I’ve found that the food in San Marino is essentially the same as that of Italy, I did find a few dishes that seem to be more popular in this region! Here are the three dishes I’d like to try 🙂

  1. Fagioli con le Cotiche
    • This is a simple bean and bacon soup, and let’s be honest, what else do we need to hear other than bacon (side question: anyone that’s not from the States, is bacon as wildly popular in your country as it is here?)
  2. Nidi di Rondine
    • I’ve seen a few different interpretations of this dish, but the one I find most commonly is mini pasta sheets that are stuffed and rolled with ham or beef and cheese, covered in parmesan and baked until golden brown. Yeah, my mouthe watered slightly too.
  3. Torta Tre Monti
    • A traditional dessert dish in San Marino, this is representative of the three fortresses that sit on top of the of the city’s capital. The basic construct is layers of wafer, cemented together with either chocolate or hazelnut cream, and covered in chocolate fondant. Can I have 5, please?

Alright friends, that’s all I have for the small country of San Marino! Come back tomorrow for a look at my top 3 things I would do in Liechtenstein!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #15: Lima

My friends. I apologize in advance, but I don’t have too much banter in me today about why I want to visit Lima, I just know it’s a city with an extremely rich, cultural history. My day has been quite hectic. As some of you know, our business had to lay off employees so they could receive pay in the form of unemployment. Today, from the time I was up until the time I came home, we were dealing with the SBA to secure a loan to bring our employees back on payroll, and we got it done! Even though this is a travel blog, I love to share other parts of our lives with you, and this was a small win that I wanted you to share in 🙂 that being said, this left very little time for research, and editing, so I’m going to do the best I can with the time I have! I committed to doing a post every day, Monday-Friday, and by gosh, that’s what I’m gonna do! So, let’s talk about Lima 🙂

First: Basilica Cathedral of Lima

Located on the downtown Plaza Mayor, this cathedral went under construction in the 1500s! It was damaged by two separate earthquakes, the most recent being the Lima-Callao earthquake in 1746, which almost entirely destroyed the city. The cathedral has stood the test of time since then, and is also the final resting place of the founder of the city, Francisco Pizarro.

Next: Museo de la Nacion

You probably won’t see a post without a museum….just saying, for future reference! I’m excited to learn more about Peruvian culture, about which I know very little, and I’m very excited to hear more about the Inca Empire! I may have said this before on this blog, but I hated history when I was in school. I thought it was such a waste of time, so I can tell you I definitely learned about the Inca Empire, but I had no clue it was from Peru. Maybe this will need to be more for education than entertainment……

Last: Huaca Pucllana

This ancient pyramid served as an important center of the Lima culture, which was a pre Incan civilization that existed from around 100-700 A.D. Talk about history! From what I can find, the tour has to be completed with a tour guide, but that it’s relatively cheap, so this will be an absolute must!

Now that it’s late and I’m hungry, let’s get the food portion out of the way!

  1. Cuy (guinea pig)
    • I’ve definitely never had guinea pig, but I’m certainly open minded about trying it! I’ve seen this when researching other South American cities as well, but it wasn’t as high up on other cities’ lists as Lima (or Peru as a whole). It’s traditionally served with potatoes and aji sauce (spicy yellow pepper sauce). Sounds delectable to me!
  2. Anticuchos de Corazón (grilled heart)
    • I know this is available in the U.S., but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve become more open minded with food, so this is also something I’ve never had. I’ve actually never had any organ meat of any kind, so you will definitely get a candid description of this experience whenever I’m able to try!
  3. Arroz con Pato (duck)
    • I love duck, and I love rice. What could go wrong here? I did see that the rice is traditionally combined with a cilantro paste and dark beer to give it a more bold flavor. Duck is probably the most perfect poultry you can eat as far as taste goes, so I’d be happy to have two or three servings 🙂

As an honorable mention, I have to try some ceviche. This was on my list for another South American city, but ceviche is recognized as the national dish of Peru, and I wouldn’t feel proper without trying a few variations!

Alright my friends, after a very long day, I’m ready to head down that old dusty road! I hope you all had a great week! I’ll be back on Monday with a brand new post, in which I’ll be revealing my theme for the week! Have a great weekend 🙂

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #14: Quito

The capital of Ecuador is very intriguing to me for one main reason. You know how much of a history buff I am, and Quito was one of the first two cities named a Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, the other being Kraków, Poland (which I’ll be writing about very soon). From reading more about this, I’ve also found that the historic center of this city has been tremendously preserved. This is also a desired destination for us because we have some very good friends from Ecuador, so it would be amazing to get to see their home country and experience it from an outsider’s point of view! Based on what they’ve told us, the food is spectacular, and considering how much of a foodie I am, I can only imagine how much my arteries will clog just writing about how much I’m going to eat down there! So, before I keep jibber-jabbering about food, let’s get on to the three things I want to do while visiting Quito!

First: El Panecillo

A tremendous hill over over 200 meters, this is home to the statue, La Virgen de Quito, made entirely of aluminum. The hill overlooks the entire city, with a phenomenal view of the volcano, Cotopaxi. I think it’s pretty safe to say that if there’s a high place in one of our destinations that overlooks the city, it’s going to be a must-do!

Next: Casa del Alabado Museo

This is a very unique museum that showcases the area’s Indigenous history. I also really enjoyed reading about how the museum is formatted. Rather than showing the artifacts chronologically, they are organized thematically. Here’s a little clip from the museum’s offical website highlighting why the art is ordered this way:

“The permanent collection is organized thematically, focusing on native ancestral rituality and spirituality in the Americas. This allows visitors to form their own visual and cultural connections to the pieces within an innovative museographic and cultural framework.”

Pretty neat, right?

Last: el San Francisco

More properly known as “Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco,” this Catholic complex was built in the 16th century. This is considered the largest religious complex in South America, and it’s also home to the famous sculpture, Virgen de Quito (the bigger statue on El Panecillo is modeled after this original made in the late 1700s). There’s also a museum in the complex that houses more than 3,000 pieces of colonial art, which you know we will not be passing up.

I do have to throw in that my only honorable mention for this trip is spending as much time as possible in Quito’s Old Town to take in as much of the beautiful, historic district as possible! I get chills thinking about how many people, whether famous or ordinary, have walked those same streets.

I can’t wait anymore though, I have to move on to the food! Dinner is cooking and I’m salivating, so I need to get this part done before I can’t take anymore!

  1. Seco de Pollo
    • A hearty chicken stew that’s cooked in beer and wine, and accompanied by tomatoes, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, peppers, onions, citrus juice of choice, and cilantro, and served along side fried plantain, rice and beans, and potatoes. The more I read about these South American dishes, the more I don’t think I could handle as many servings as I think! They’re all served with so much on the side, I really think one helping would do the trick!
  2. Ceviche
    • With Ecuador bordering the Pacific Ocean, I can imagine the seafood will be far superior than anything I can get at home. That being said, I do admit that I’m not a major fan of raw fish when consumed outside the context of sushi. However, being that this is so popular in Ecuador, I’m willing to give it a shot! Anyone care to comment on their experience with ceviche?
  3. Llapingachos
    • If they’re anywhere near as tasty as they are fun to pronounce, these will be amazing! These are fried potato patties that are stuffed with cheese. Simple, yet effective!

I do have an honorable mention for the food that, and that’s a dessert called Flan de Coco, which is just a coconut flan that’s smothered with an orange caramel sauce. Now that I can take on more than one!

Alright my friends, that’s all I have for Quito! Let me know what you think, and share your experience if you’ve ever been 🙂

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #13: Medellín

I want to first begin this post by saying that I’m aware of how dangerous Medellín once was. It’s pretty clear that this city has made massive improvements in terms of crime, and the homicide rate has dropped lower than some popular cities in the States that I would have no problem visiting. As I researched how practical a trip to Medellín would be, I learned that most of the crime is consolidated to a specific area of the city (as is with most big cities), and it typically happens with people that are already caught up in some sort of dangerous criminal activity beforehand. I’m sure the stigma of how dangerous Medellín once was may take a very, very long time to escape the minds of foreigners, but after spending quite some time on the data behind the crime in this city, I would feel safe enough to go! I know it’s a little bit of a downer to start the post with, but I felt it necessary to talk about. I, as an American, know that the days of the Medellín Cartel are what typically come to mind first when the city is mentioned, so this is an important topic to address. Now, for the fun part, let’s talk about the 3 things I want to do most on a trip to Medellín!

First: The Museum of Antioquia

You already knew there would be a museum included, didn’t you? Since it’s obligatory for me to go to one in our destinations, this is my choice! This museum includes several works of art from famous artist and native of Medellín, Fernando Botero, including his painting, “The Death of Pablo Escobar,” and several statues that are located on the same plaza as the museum. I’m a sucker for amazing art, and this will be no exception 🙂

Next: Tour of Comuna 13.

Now, I mentioned before that Medellín has become a much safer city, and it certainly has. Comuna 13 was named the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellín while the city was the most dangerous city in the world. With the recency of this, it would be very difficult for me to take our little one with us on this adventure, but I think that this would be awesome for a couple different reasons. 1) It’s a huge part of the history of Medellín, have been controlled by Pablo Escobar, and being so dangerous that, at one point, there was a 6 p.m. curfew to try to control some of the violence. Now, there are guided tours that take you through the streets of the Comuna, and this is where it takes a turn for good. This Comuna, while still having its problems, is celebrated for its enormous turnaround from being invested with homicides and drug-trafficking to having colorful murals on building walls, and having kids playing on the vibrant streets during the day time. It’s also home to a great network of open-air escalators, which have helped curb the crime by giving the comuna better access to the rest of the city, and the polic better access to the comuna. I’m excited to see this incredible turnaround!

Last: Barefoot Park

How cool is this? A park in Medellín that was built in a zen-like style that encourages children and parents to run around, play, relax, all while doing so without their shoes! I wouldn’t have thought it would be a big deal, but this is one of the top rated tourist attractions in Medellín, so I’m looking forward to this! I wonder if they have some sort of yoga class that we could do in the park like I see at home?

Alright, alright alright….my favorite part! Food!!! Here are 3 dishes I MUST try while in Medellín!

  1. Bandeja Paisa
    • Everything I’ve read says that this is the most traditional dish in the Antioquia region of the country, and it sounds wonderful! It’s English translation is “Paisa Platter,” which includes white rice, red beans, carne asada, chorizo, black pudding, fried egg, plantain, arepa, avocado, and one of my favorites, chicharrónes! I usually end a dish like this by saying, “I’ll take 3!” but with how robust this platter is, I think 1 will do the trick 🙂
  2. Ajiaco
    • This was another dish I found was pretty universal when looking up traditional dishes in Medellín. This is a hearty soup made with chicken, potatoes, and corn, and is served with a plate of rice, avocado, plantain, additional cream (I would assume to put in the soup), and some places added a side of capers. For this dish, I can definitely say I’ll need more than one!
  3. Obleas
    • We always have to have dessert, right? Obleas are a simple but amazing street sweet, consisting of two wafers with whatever filling one would want, but the most popular in this region would be arequipe (aka dulche de leche). I’m confident that we would be having these after every single meal!

Also, we would be drinking every ounce of coffee we can get our hands on! Outside of Jamaican blue mountain coffee, we both think that Columbian coffee is the best choice, so you better believe we’ll be sucking down all the coffee in sight!

That’s all I have for Medellín, my friends! You all are a pleasure to write for 🙂 Have a great rest of your day/night!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #12: Rio de Janeiro

Because I know so little about South America as a whole, I wanted to start with the most common cities people think about when they think of a destination related to this continent. Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires tend to be the most common ones that I hear from my friends, so Rio is #2 on my list for South America! As with most of the cities I’ll write about this week, I didn’t know much about it beforehand, other than that it was the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. As today is such a busy day for me, I won’t waste any more time before getting into my top 3, so here we go!

First: Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)

This is most certainly the easiest choice, and arguably the most recognizable attraction in Rio de Janerio (at least for those of us that aren’t locals). Built in the 1920s and finished in the ’30s, this statue is almost 100 feet tall (124 if you include its pedestal), with a wingspan of 92 feet! While there are typically large crowds, I did find where you can go on an early morning guided tour that takes place before the normal crowds arrive. This will be a must, and when we get a chance to do this, I’ll be sure to get tons of footage and let you know pricing 🙂

Next: Carnaval

Known as the biggest carnival in the world with over 2 million people on the streets daily, Carnaval is a festival that dates back to the mid 1600s, and takes place from the Friday before Lent and ending on Ash Wednesday. There’s not a lot more to say about this, other than that Rebecca and I want to be a part of the biggest festival in the world some day!

Last: Maracanã Stadium

Most of you probably know how much we love sports, and Brazil, at least to most to me and my friends, is almost synonymous with phenomenal soccer (or football, I know I know). This stadium holds almost 80,000 fans, and as I’ve come to learn, soccer fans are the most fans to be in a crowd with our of any sport that I’ve ever watched! From what I can find, Flamengo plays most of their home matches at Maracanã, so you better believe we’ll be getting some tickets and getting wild with our South American friends at the match!

You know what time it is………time for food!!! Here are the top 3 things I have to try while in Rio de Janeiro!

  1. Codfish Cake
    • While this definitely isn’t some sort of elegant, fine-dining type of dish, it’s something that can be found in most bars and restaurants as an appetizer. It sounds delicous, and looks like an easy finger food, taking the shape of a sort of “ball-like” version of a fried fish finger. Yes, I know that description isn’t the greatest, don’t judge me 🙂
  2. Picadinho
    • This is a traditional, hearty Brazilian stew, commonly made with sirloin, tomatoes, garlic, onions, beef broth, butter, and a few other seasonings. Trust me, there will not be just a single bowl eaten. Count me in for at least two!
  3. Brigadeiro
    • Of course we will not be skipping dessert. A brigadeiro seems to be what I would consider a truffle here in the states, and if it’s the same size as the truffles we have here, we will be consuming these by the dozen (and then going for a nice long run right after!)

Alright friends, that’s all for today! I know it’s a little shorter than normal, but life is extremely crazy right now with trying to make sure everything is prepared for our business when life (somewhat) returns to normal, but I didn’t want to miss a day. I would rather give you a thoughtful, but short, post, than to not post at all 🙂 Love you all!

Blessings,
Madison

Bucket List #11: Buenos Aires

First and foremost, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone reading this! Over the last couple days, our views and our social media following has grown astronomically, and we couldn’t be more grateful for such an amazing community of people! With that being said, I want to continue our bucket list series (ya know, the whole “no traveling” throws a wrench in going anywhere right now). I’ll rotate in more “Bucket List USA” series in the coming weeks, but right now, I want to take us to a continent I haven’t even written about yet! I’ve heard so many amazing things about Buenos Aires, and a lot of my influence for writing about it comes from Tim Ferriss, author of 4-Hour Body and 4-Hour Workweek. He gave some incredibly valuable information about his time living in Buenos Aires, so I knew right away that this would be first on my list for South America! So, without further adieu, here are the top 3 things I want to do in Buenos Aires, followed by the 3 dishes I will not leave without trying 🙂

First: The Recoleta Cemetery and Museums

You knew I had to have at least one museum on here, right? Do I detect an eye roll? In all seriousness, the architecture of this cemetery is incredible, as it’s the final resting place for several notable Argentinians, including Eva Peron (sorry to my Argentine friends, I can’t figure out how to put an accent mark above the ‘o’), former presidents, and many other famous residents. My inner history nerdiness is going nuts right now.

Next: The Colon Theater (again, accent on the second ‘o’)

I’m very much a lover of the musical theater, and from everything I’ve read, no one that loves theater can pass a chance to visit this one in particular. National Geographic names this theater one of the top 10 opera houses in the world, and the it’s widely regarded as one of the best concert halls on the globe. The original theater was built in 1857, and was replaced by a new on in 1908, showing that this gorgeous work of art has stood the test of time for over a century!

Last: La Boca

I really don’t want this seem like a copout…..but instead of writing about this beautiful, colorful neighborhood in the city, I’m just going to put a link for you to visit so you can see it for yourself 🙂 I’m serious, go check out this link! https://www.fodors.com/world/south-america/argentina/buenos-aires/experiences/news/inside-the-most-instagrammable-neighborhood-in-buenos-aires

Alright, now we’re at my favorite part of each post…FOOD!!! What I love about South America (at least from my experience with friends from there) is that the cultures all have amazing, and similar cuisines, but each of them are unique in their own ways. Here are the 3 things I can’t leave Buenos Aires without trying!

  1. Locro
    • A delicous and hearty stew, made with corn, beans, potatoes, squash and usually beef, although I think I would prefer chorizo, but I don’t make the rules! I’d love to make this for the family on a cold evening in front of the fireplace 🙂
  2. Empanadas
    • I had some UNBELIEVABLE empanadas in the Dominican Republic, so I can’t wait to see how they compare with the ones that I’m most certainly going to have in Buenos Aires! And I won’t be having just a few….I will be having several….dozen….okay maybe not that many, but you get what I’m saying!
  3. Dulche de Leche
    • When typing in any variation of “Argentinian dessers” on Google, the first thing on almost every single search result is dulche de leche, and let me tell you, I want it in every way it was described in the articles I found; spread on morning toast, straight out of the can, dolloped on top of a piece of pie, used as a dip for churros, or made into a wonderful dulche de leche ice cream. I…..am…..salivating.

I feel like each new post becomes my newest “I’m looking forward to this food the most!” Thank you so much for reading today’s post! Just to forecast the rest of the week, I will be sticking with South America for each of the next 4 posts. My tendency is always towards Europe if I don’t plan ahead, but I’ve specifically set this week aside for 5 South American destinations. Again, thank you for reading, and have a phenomenal rest of your day!

Blessings,
Madison