A New York State of Mind by guest author Laura Zoumberis

Reading Time: 9 minutes

New York City is certainly unparalleled and its reputation is justly earned. For any of you first-time visitors to The Big Apple who are worried that it might be overrated, you have nothing to fear. New York will meet, if not exceed your expectations. This world-famous city is like a living, breathing organism and it makes you feel as if you have entered a completely new world. To assist you in your travel adventure, I have divided my commentary into three main sections: sightseeing, eating, and transportation, along with some adjunct commentary.

Sightseeing in New York

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Manhattanite in possession of children will be in want of a nanny, and Central Park is overflowing with them. (No joke! They are everywhere!) Since Central Park is certain to be on your “must-see” list, check the weather for New York City right before your trip; you will want to wear good walking shoes and visit the park on a sunny day for the best views. [gallery ids="5901,5902" type="rectangular"] You can also rent a bike in Central Park if you prefer to see more of the park in less time. I personally regret that I did not bring food and a blanket for a picnic in Sheep Meadow.
Traveler tip: There is actually a Central Park picnic delivery company you can utilize that will save you time if you want the full experience of picnicking in the park like a pro.
To navigate Central Park, I used Google maps, and I also brought a paper map provided by the concierge service at my hotel. (Did you know? The Latin origin for the word “concierge” means slave. If you’re like me, then random trivia is your jam.)
Traveler tip: New York Central Park website has a great map that will show you the different running maps, carriage ride routes, and much much more.
gm.jpg The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and Metropolitan Museum of Art are located close to Central Park but on opposite sides. After previously visiting the WWII museum in New Orleans, the AMNH was, in my opinion, a let-down. Several of the exhibits are iconic thanks to Ben Stiller and his Night at the Museum movies, but there were no interactive exhibits that I could find. Despite the beautiful architecture, dinosaur bones, and famous Easter Island recreation, it seemed rather anticlimactic and thus overpriced ($22 for adult admission, $12.50 for kids, and $17 for students and seniors.) [gallery ids="5914,5913,5911,5912" type="rectangular"] The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) by contrast, was astounding. The entry fee is any amount you see fit to pay, although suggested admission is similar to AMNH. If you have no interest in paintings, sculptures, or artists such as Van Gogh, Degas, or Caravaggio, then disregard this paragraph. If you find yourself salivating at the thought of standing mere inches away from the work of the masters, then the MMA should be a top priority for you. Be sure to plan your visit in accordance with their hours of operation. We, unfortunately, arrived an hour and a half before closing time and only saw a fraction of what was available.
Traveler tip: Metropolitan Museum of Art hours : Sunday-Thursday, 10 AM – 5:30 PM, Friday and Saturday, 10 AM – 9 PM.
Their gift shop is enormous and features a variety of ephemera ranging from simple magnets and stationary, to umbrellas, coffee table books, art prints, and more. For all of you Sleepless in Seattle lovers who simply MUST see the Empire State Building, it is most definitely worth the trip and the price. From the stunning art deco design to the view, I do not regret a penny spent on this visit. There is also a free Empire State Building app that features an audio tour, history of the building, and trivia. Oh, and the building has free Wifi! As for whether you should take in the view during the day or at night, it is merely personal preference. I preferred going during the day, because I was able to see more of the city. Statue of Liberty on the coast of New York City As for the Statue of Liberty, I recommend viewing it from a boat tour on the Hudson River. There are several types of boats and companies to choose from, some of which include a meal if you are willing to pay more. Standing on the bow of that boat while I drank in the view of Lady Liberty was so humbling. Peel away the politics, and she reminds you of the foundational values of our nation and why our potential is so great. uvliuhjThe last site I will mention here is the September 11th Memorial and museum. We did not tour the museum because the wound feels so fresh that we did not want to relive it. Just the grounds and fountains with the inscriptions of the victims’ names were sobering enough. Also, please don’t be one of those [expletive deleted] who smiles in front of the 9/11 memorial and takes a cheesy selfie. Have some decency. While I did not visit enough iconic places to make it worth my money, there is a New York City Pass you can purchase that will allow you to save money while seeing some of the most popular sights around New York City.

Eating in New York

One of Adam Sandler’s most underrated films is Pixels. It’s humorous, entertaining, and creative. During one segment, the movie features a gigantic Pac-Man chomping his way through the streets of New York City. That visual perfectly captures the ravenous swath I cut through the restaurants of the Big Apple. Why Eat, Pray, Love, when you can just eat?Chris Farley - Lay off my I'm starving! First stop, Eataly. This cosmopolitan joint is a food lover’s paradise. It is an indoor market as well as a collection of multiple, open-area restaurants specializing in their own niches. There’s a gelato spot, a handmade pasta deli, a variety of brands (and prices) of olive oil, and aisles upon aisles of different packaged pastas. Eatily in New York City One restaurant area only prepares seafood and veggie dishes. Naturally, we traipsed right on through that one to find Carb-vana (my name, not trademarked yet but still proprietary), another restaurant portion where pizza and pasta are freshly made. The portion sizes are completely un-American, meaning they are actually fit for your stomach and not your star-spangled, gluttonous eyes. Everything we tried was delicious, from the appetizers to the entrees. I highly recommend the ciabatta bread layered with ricotta cheese, honey, and LAVENDER. It was fancy, flavorful, and freakin’ delicious. [caption id="attachment_5921" align="alignright" width="242"]Giovanni Rana's Squid Ink Liguini at Giovanni Rana’s in NYC[/caption] Chelsea Market is another popular shopping and dining experience. It is an artsy indoor market comprised of restaurants, local shops, and even chain stores such as Anthropology. Be sure to stop by Giovanni Rana’s for some delicious homemade pasta. If you like the taste of seafood, check out the squid ink linguini with crab meat. I like to live dangerously. In the mood for dessert? Try the cheesecake at Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery on 45th Street and Times Square, or grab a pastry at Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center. When you budget for your trip, be sure to allocate between $50-$100 a day for food. Obviously, if you are on a tight budget, you won’t be dining at the more expensive restaurants. However, cheap fast food is hard to come by, and that includes street vendors. Paying $4 for a pretzel adds up fast.
Traveler tip: Plan carefully if you want a food tour of the famous Top 10 Street food Vendors of New York City.
Also, NYC hotels typically do not offer a continental breakfast, so you are on your own for every meal. If you have to choose between food and souvenirs, go with food. Your taste buds will thank you even if your waistline doesn’t. [gallery ids="5920,5916" type="rectangular"]

Transportation in New York

Don’t let the movies fool you; Cary Grant is not waiting for you at the top of the Empire State Building and taxis are not the best way to make your way around the city. Just ask Deborah Kerr (see the film An Affair to Remember.) The exception to this is if you locate the Cash Cab. Shout out to Discovery Channel for bringing back the best trivia show ever! The one time I flagged down a cab driver (which I will admit, was exciting), he ended up taking us on a rather circuitous route so he could charge us more. So, suck it up buttercup and make your way to the nearest subway station. Contrary to some misconceptions, the subway is not shady or filled with hoodlums. New Yorkers use it all day for errands and for commuting to work.
Traveler tip: Avoid using the subway during typical rush hours such as 8AM and 5PM. Check out reviews of the Best New York Subway Apps. I would definitely download one before your trip because it makes navigating the system much easier. Check out this awesome site for Complete NYC subway tips and tricks.
If you choose the subway, I recommend the seven-day pass which costs $31. To view the various prices for subway tickets, check out Metro Card. We used the seven-day pass for about three and a half days and it was perfect. There are kiosks in the subway where it can be purchased and they accept card or cash. As for navigating the subway, we had a friend show us the ropes, but if you lack the advantage of a local connection, your smartphone will save the day.
Traveler tip: Pay attention to whether you are going uptown or downtown. This will determine which subway trains you should take. See the Complete Guide to NYC Subway tips and tricks. 
I used an app called Citymapper and it was AMAZING. It showed us which station to use, which subway train went to our stop (they are identified by letters), how many minutes we had until the next one would arrive, and the number of stops that lay between us and our final destination. If you have an Apple watch, the app syncs to your watch so you don’t have to keep pulling out your phone to check. If you still don’t care for public transportation or cannot handle all of the walking and stairs involved, then Uber is your next best friend. New York is full of Uber drivers. We generally found them to be friendly and in possession of clean, fragrant cars. The prices were better than taking a cab, especially if you are splitting the cost with friends or family. Also, they are incentivized to get you to your destination quickly so they can pick up their next paying customer.

Just a few more things…

[caption id="attachment_5922" align="alignright" width="284"]Hamilton on Broadway in New York City Hamilton on Broadway[/caption] We flew into the Newark airport because it is less crowded, and we were picked up by a friend who lived in New Jersey. However, we then had to drag our luggage on the train and subsequently the subway, so either choose one of the busier airports like LaGuardia airport or JFK airport, or request an Uber from New Jersey into the city. Our UberXL ride at the end of our trip cost about $80 and the drive takes approximately 35 minutes when the roads are clear. If you are interested in taking in a Broadway show, buy tickets in accordance with how popular the show is. This trip came about because we found $200 mezzanine seats for Hamilton on Broadway a year ahead of time. We purchased our Waitress tickets about three months out. (If you know nothing about Waitress, I highly recommend it! It’s hilarious, endearing, and the music was written by Sara Bareilles, so it’s flawless.) You can use the TodayTix App to find last-minute tickets to Broadway shows. However, if you wait until the last minute for Hamilton, you are most definitely throwing away your shot.
Traveler tip: When choosing a hotel or AirBnb, you may be tempted to focus solely on price. However, you really want to prioritize location. I stayed at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway which has a subway station right outside its doors and is only four stops from Times Square. (No compensation was provided by the Radisson for this reference.)
Finally, the people of New York City get a bad rap. They have an unfounded reputation for being surly and uncompromising, when in fact, I found the opposite to be the case. Everyone we met, with the exception of one unhelpful street vendor, was kind and obliging. So, don’t be afraid to ask for directions and enjoy your trip! Have you already traveled to New York City before? What tips do you have for new visitors? Please leave any advice, feedback, or questions in the comments section below 🙂
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: How to spend 48 hours in New York for the Holiday Season How to Hike In Moab Utah With Your Furry Friend
]]>

The Battle for Culloden in Scotland

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Charles Edward Stuart is a name not often recognized here in America; but if you possess Scottish blood, however, or an affinity for Scottish history, then you most likely know of the Bonnie Prince Charlie and his infamous Battle for Culloden.

Prince Charles Stuart and his Claim for the Throne:

Prince Charles Edward Stuart was born in Rome and lived in a staunchly Catholic household with his father, who would often talk about their heritage (like most Scottish) and who held a claim on the rights to the Scottish and English throne. I like to think that there must have also been talk of Scottish rebellion, and the Jacobite succession in that house because of who Charles became. With Prince Charles growing up in such an environment, those lectures must have transformed him greatly to become the dreamer he became later in life. He had a dream of being able to take back the throne of not only Scotland but England as well because he felt it was God’s will. [caption id="attachment_5712" align="aligncenter" width="406"]Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Battle for Culloden Bonnie Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Courtesy of the Scottish National Trust)[/caption] Scotland has a very long history of antagonism between Catholic and Protestants, there are thousands of graves throughout Scotland and England as a result of that hatred. As a side note, we as the human race seem to not have learned from our mistakes of the past. We still fight these terrible wars, resulting in THOUSANDS of deaths and refugees…..then eventually mass graves like the one that Prince Charles led many of the Scottish Clans to. It started in December 1943, when his father named him Prince Reagent. The title of Prince Reagent meant that he could act directly in his father’s name. If we let our imaginations look at his side of the story, where this 21-year-old-boy had just been given a huge amount of power by a father I assume he desperately wanted to impress. [caption id="attachment_5719" align="aligncenter" width="4272"]Culloden Field - Battle for Culloden Aviemore Scotland[/caption] His first act was to raise funds to buy two ships, the Elisabeth and the Doutelle. They were able to sail past the English ships on their way to Scotland, Charles learned that the French fleet that was supposed to be supporting him was badly damaged by storms. News of his arrival in Scotland spread like wildfire to those who still supported his clemency. Please keep in mind that anyone who was found openly supporting his claim, if discovered by the British was killed (sometimes brutally) for treason.

The Social shift towards War:

The Scottish were tired of the suppression of their livelihood, their customs, and the taxes they had to pay to a king they didn’t believe in. Prince Charlie’s Jacobite cause was still supported by many in the Highland clans, both Catholic and Protestant. Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standards, gathered what little money he could from the Highland Clans, and marched on Edinburgh, which was quickly surrendered to him. I imagine this really encouraged him and made him feel as if God truly was on his side, so he surged on. [caption id="attachment_5711" align="alignnone" width="720"]Edinburgh Castle in Scotland Edinburgh Castle[/caption] On September 21st, 1745, he engaged in the Battle of Prestonpans. By November, he had a band of 6,000 men. They then won the Battle of Falkirk, and after this, the Duke of Cumberland caught up with them at Culloden. Prince Charles knew that he had to defend his military stronghold in Inverness, they were dwindling on supplies and weapons stored there. He chose to engage the English at the Battle of Culloden.
Traveler tip: It takes about a 20 min to reach Culloden from Inverness, so I would recommend leaving in the morning so you get the little bit of the daybreak mist. It’s also the best time to take pictures because there aren’t as many people around.
[caption id="attachment_5690" align="alignnone" width="1220"]img_8922 Courtesy of ScotsClan.com[/caption]

The Battle for Culloden:

Prince Charles’ army of Scottish Clansmen were exhausted and starving yet they were still asked to go into battle – because God was on their side right? It was the last battle they would fight on British soil — the battle itself only took 1 hour and nearly 1,500 people died that day; over 1,000 of them being Jacobite Scotsman. The Scottish men wore the kilts of their clans and were armed with axes, skindoo’s, swords, and French and Spanish Muskets that were only slightly smaller than those of the British forces. However, the British brought Mortars. It was a quick battle with heavy losses and still stands as a somber reminder of the past.
Traveler tip: If you plan to visit any of the major Scottish Monuments, I would suggest stopping here first. The National Scottish Trust. They manage most of the sites with significant historical value in Scotland.

The Visitors Center at Culloden:

When you arrive in Culloden, you will find a visitors center with items that have been recovered from Culloden. You wander through the history that leads to the battle, and end with a movie, before being led to the field where the fighting occurred. My family history dates back to the 1500’s with the MacKenzie’s and into the 18th-19th Century with the MacFarlane’s, who after this battle, fled to Ireland and then the United States. [caption id="attachment_5691" align="aligncenter" width="1197"]Culloden House or Lenach House Culloden House or Leanach House – Courtesy of ScotsClan.com[/caption] Walking through the visitors center, and learning of how difficult their lives were was extremely sobering for me. What if a cousin had died here; buried in the Clan graves around the field where they fell? The different members of the clans were actually identified by their tartan or a small clan sprig in their bonnet. To see the Mounds of earth on the otherwise flat field, that turned out to be where our Clans had eternally been laid to rest. It made my heart break for the suppression and tumultuous past that Scotland had been under. Yet I am so proud to be Scottish, I have a family crest from both Scotland and Holland. I know their history, I visited their graves, I visited their clan homes and felt that Scotland was really somewhere I could call home. I know what it is to be proud of my heritage and what my heritage actually is. I know why I tend to love the rain and being outdoors now, the excitement I feel when I think about rainstorms and nature.
Traveler tip: entrance costs about $14 & I would plan on spending at least 2 hours there so you can really soak it in. I personally stayed in Inverness right by the river, and then went to see Culloden, several Clan castles nearby & then of course Loch Ness which is a short drive. From there, I traveled to Portree by car to visit the Isle of Skye.
I think it was sad for both sides of the war. That’s the terrible thing about war, is that their are families on both sides that lost something. But I fear Scotland lost the most in this particular war: After this tragic event,  those who survived either fled or were taken as prisoners. The Scottish leaders that were captured, were often kept alive… in slavery and at times torture to ensure their clans were kept in line. The brutal suppression of anything that identified the Scottish as a distinct people was banned. Tartans through the years The kilts were changed over time, but the Scottish spirit and enduring pride will forever live on. It is in our hearts, it is in our minds and will forever be a place I call my home and my heritage.
To read more about Scotland read: 5 Classic dishes to try in Scotland Outlander Self-Guided Tour
Written by Janiel Green, Edited by Laura Zoumberis
]]>

The Ultimate Guide to Pompeii

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Pompeii has always held a deep fascination for me. I have been here twice now because the first time we did a self-tour, and I didn’t end up noticing half of the things that I learned when taking a guided tour. So after having been there twice now, I put together the Ultimate Guide to Pompeii.

Why was Pompeii important?

After learning more about this place, you walk through its streets and can feel the amazing history, wonder at the extremely detailed and well-preserved ruins, and sense of the palpable weight of the many deaths that occurred there. Pompeii was the city used as a retreat for high ranking generals, nobles, and dignitaries. It was also a major town along the trade route to Rome because of its proximity to the Ocean. Set below the famous, volcanic Mount Vesuvius, around 5 miles away, it was a place of gladiator games, theater, food, trade markets, prostitution, homosexuality, romance, and slavery, and it was all buried under 20 feet of ash from Vesuvius. Pompeii was excavated in the 1700’s and because it was buried in ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the contents and people of the city were quite well-preserved. Over the years, the streets have become worn from the thousands of tourists visiting this magnificent historical city. That massive foot traffic has started to take its toll on what was once well-preserved. Make sure to see this before it is destroyed by time and tourists.
Traveler tip: If you are booking a guide, make sure that the way they communicate in a large group is with either a microphone or personalized earpieces so you can hear them. Pompeii can become very crowded with lots of different guides speaking a variety of languages, and it gets very hard to hear. It’s even more difficult when you are all gathered around looking at the same thing, so make sure you pick a guide or tour that accommodates this, as well as provides an early morning departure time. This way,  you can avoid the majority of the crowds from the cruise ships and buses.

The Streets of Pompeii

Our cute, curly-haired Italian guide led us through the streets and pointed out that the stones beneath our feet are made from rocks from Mt. Vesuvius. The stones are approximately 30 cm from the base of the street, and there are elevated sidewalks and stepping stones at the major crossings. These stepping stones were actually a way to avoid the sewage and drainage that was so often running in the streets. They also have a break between stepping stones to allow carriages to pass through (quite ingenious.) In some streets, you can actually still see the crevices where the carriages seemed to pass the most. It’s quite fascinating to think that you can actually witness the marks of history in the streets of Pompeii. If you wander in the streets, you will likely notice how straight the roads seem to be. This is quite a feat for an ancient society to be so sophisticated in their grid-like roads and drainage systems.  The majority of all roads in Rome and Italy come from the Roman period, where these roads were typically placed by the Roman legion along military and trade routes. They had massive forces and were out to conquer the world or as much of it as they could. A typical invading party would consist of 20,000 legionnaires, 10,000 cavalry, 15,000 auxiliaries, 6,000 support personnel, and 15,000 animals. I would hate to be at the end of that train if the roads weren’t precisely engineered.

Road Construction

So how did the Romans construct these roads without all of the technology we possess today? To construct these straight and precise roads, they used a Groma (see photo). Roman GromaIf there was a direction change, then a high point was utilized to indicate the change of the direction. A plow loosened the ground, workers dug the trenches on the sides for the slight slope for drainage, the bed was trampled down and then the stone laid on top. This is how these roads were built so incredibly straight. I’m not typically interested in the particulars of construction of roads, but I found this so fascinating for some reason. The anatomy of their roads is incredibly modern!Roman Road Anatomy So after learning about all these roads, you turn a corner and see a crooked road and it just throws off your feng shui. The brothels and prostitutes were said to live on these roads and were frequented by all. A customer would enter the brothel where photos were painted on the walls of the different talents the prostitutes in that particular establishment could perform. The customer would then point to a photo and was taken the corresponding room. Erotic murals were said to be painted within these rooms. (No photo included as most are distasteful and I do not wish to offend my readers.)

Pompeii Markets

[gallery ids="3016,3015" type="square" columns="2"] We wandered down more streets and found this little gem where they bartered and traded food and different products. I hadn’t realized that Pompeii was actually situated along a major Roman trade route because of its proximity to the ocean. You can see the loaves of bread and fish depicted in the photo on the right, and on the left, various other outlines of different trades and services offered within this market. What was amazing to me was how detailed the murals were and the amount of color that went into them (as artificial coloring was not yet available to this ancient society). If they are this colorful now after so many years, can you imagine how vibrant it must have been during the time of the Roman empire? [caption id="attachment_3022" align="alignnone" width="4000"]Sardines and Siestas - Ultimate Guide to Pompeii A local buffet where sardines and bread were picked up for the Siesta of the day[/caption] Our guide then told us about the word siesta. In modern times, it’s considered to be a luxury, but in ancient times it was deemed a necessity. Siestas were typically taken during the hottest parts of the day to avoid the oppressive heat. The word siesta comes from the Latin word ‘hora sexta’ meaning “the 6th hour of the day,” where there was a dedicated time to grab some fresh sardines and bread on the street, then take a nap before returning to the order of the day.

The Temple of Apollo

[gallery ids="3035,3036,3034" type="rectangular"] After our short siesta history lesson, we visited the temple of Apollo. It boasted magnificent preservation of columns, statues, and mosaics, where you could truly imagine it as a place of reflection and religious pursuits of the time. This particular temple dates clear back to the 6th century; even back to the Samnite period. It has both Roman and Greco-style influences throughout. The perimeter is surrounded by 48 columns that were originally 2 stories high, and the inner ‘cella’ (center) houses a sacrificial altar with Apollo shooting arrows at Diana (the original statues are housed in the National Archeological Museum in Naples). There is also a sundial or meridian that was found to the left of the stairway to the temple. Interestingly enough, this temple is one of the oldest in the city and Apollo was, in fact, one of the main divinities of early Pompeii. [caption id="attachment_3007" align="alignnone" width="4000"]DSCN0642 Stairs leading to the actual sacred area of the Temple of Apollo[/caption]

Roman Bath’s in the Ultimate Guide to Pompeii

Prior to entering a temple, patrons would typically bathe themselves; so we stopped at a magnificent bath house where it was so well preserved I nearly giggled. Why would I giggle? Because it was like I was literally walking into a REAL bathhouse where you could see the intricate and magnificent Roman statues holding up the ceiling, the hollow tubes that were inside the walls to warm the different areas, the elevated floor where steam was pushed through so you weren’t walking on cold floor, a huge basin where you could go and cool down if you were too hot, and the wonderful ceilings that are RARELY EVER seen in a place as old as this! I couldn’t believe it! My Grandma and I have always been fascinated by Roman History. We watch Gladiator together all the time. This experience felt like I was seeing first-hand how Maximus would have bathed, and it just made me kind of giggle knowing my imagination was running away with me; but how could it NOT in a place such as THIS?! [gallery ids="3030,3026,3025,3024,3028,3029,3027,3031,3032" type="slideshow"] We left the bathhouse and took a drink from the ancient aqueducts that run throughout the city. They are still widely used today throughout both Pompeii and Italy, and the water often flows from the mouths of Lions. In addition to the very modern plumbing throughout the city, most houses also had indoor plumbing! Aqueducts would bring fresh water into the home and either pass through via a small trough-like stream or be used and stored in large cisterns or water-collecting basins within the home itself. I pondered the complexity of their society as well as the fact that they were so well supplied with more modern conveniences. I never imagined an ‘ancient’ society such as this. DSCN0665

The Tragedy of Pompeii

The next leg of my tour is where things got a little sobering and dark for me. I work in the medical field, so I have seen dead bodies. I have watched first-hand as life slipped away from someone who lost the battle to infection, cancer, etc. This was disturbing for me though, to see the encasement of the bodies that had died during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius so long ago. [gallery ids="3020,3019,3018,3017" type="rectangular"] Originally, the bodies were buried in the ash where they eventually decayed, leaving the shells surrounding the area where they had once been. A scientist then used a form of ultrasound/radio-frequency to locate these cavities and injected plaster into them to preserve the area, allowing for their excavation. The result is a macabre witness to the magnitude of the volcanic eruption, the fear that must have consumed the inhabitants of Pompeii, and the horrific ways in which they died. Their terror is visible in their body language and in their faces. These encasements or historical cavities were found both within the town and clear down by the ocean as if the residents were trying to take to the sea to escape the volcano’s wrath. Mothers cradling their babies, pregnant women, lovers holding each other in bed; it’s sobering and broke my heart a little to see all of this destruction. So many were found in their beds that it is assumed the eruption happened late at night, and likely took the whole town by surprise. [caption id="attachment_3033" align="alignnone" width="3000"]DSCN0732 A plaster preservation exhibiting a young boy likely attempting to cover his face with a scarf[/caption] The last thing we looked at while in Pompeii was the names of different houses and streets. The graffiti on the streets was actually announcements and advertisements. Most of the streets are classified and named by modern street signs to help tourists and guides find their way. Many scholars believe that the streets were likely named by nobles who often spoke Greek. Three languages were spoken in Pompeii – Latin (of course), Oscan (the language of the people in the area), and Greek (still spoken throughout Magna Grecia as well as the language of sailors throughout the Roman territories). They know these were the core languages based on the graffiti that was found on the street corners and walls. There was one particular house that had a title over the door. I remember our guide telling us that gladiators and slaves didn’t have names, only a particular nickname under the master they belonged to or were owned by. Under some circumstances, if a Gladiator was quite fierce or famous, they were given their own particular name with a suffix in Roman that indicated their rise from slavery. If I’m not mistaken, I believe this sign adorning the top of the house was one of these examples. DSCN0641 In the end, Pompeii was a sobering and fascinating place with detailed and magnificent preservation. I think all could and should learn from such an emotionally evoking environment. So if you get a chance to visit, I hope the information provided here helps you realize that you are literally standing amongst the best-preserved history of the Roman Empire, and likely one of the most tragic moments in its history.
Traveler Tip: Where to stay and how to get there: Stay in Sorrento because it is a 30 minute train ride to Pompeii, instead of a half day trip from Rome (3.5 hours each way to travel if coming from Rome). Sorrento is a coastal town that is very tourist friendly and most people speak English, while Naples is a quieter town and not so overrun with tourists (just my kind of town). Other nearby towns that are worth a visit include: Capria, Positano, Amalfi, Herculeneum, Naples, Paestum.
[caption id="attachment_5400" align="alignnone" width="1344"]Pompeii plan streets Map of the Streets of Pompeii[/caption]

Recipe of Ancient Pompeii:

Ius Diabotanon in Pisce Frixo (Fish in Herb Sauces) 4 Whitefish 3 tsp cumin 3 tsp coriander seed 3 tsp oregano 3 tsp rue 1 garlic 1 carrot Honey to taste Oil and Vinegar to Taste Defritum (Grape juice to taste) Liquamen (Salt) Black pepper to taste Instructions: Prepare, clean, turn in flour, and salt and fry the fish. Finely crush pepper, cumin, coriander seed, oregano, rue, and garlic; moisten with vinegar, a carrot, honey, oil, Defritum, and Liquamen. Pour in the saucepan, place on fire. When simmering, pour over the fried fish, sprinkle with pepper, and serve.  (Read here for more recipes like this.)
]]>

5 Classic dishes to try in Scotland

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Classic Dishes to try in Scotland

  1. Minced Beef Pie – this is a hearty meal full of minced beef and strong spices, and it is typically paired with Scotland’s finest whiskey. Classic Dishes to try in Scotland
  2. Chicken Stuffed Haggis– haggis is made from sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart/liver/lungs), and typically stuffed inside the stomach lining along with oatmeal, suet, spices and salt mixed with stalk. I couldn’t quite bring myself to eat it inside of a stomach lining, but found it quite delicious and savory, with a hint of nut stuffed inside the chicken. Now that the foodie realm in Scotland is improving, they pair it with a sweet whiskey jam-like sauce that creates this delightfully sweet and savory combo. It nearly had me licking my plate at the end. I know to most people it sounds disgusting, but in Scotland the winter weather is so harsh and the walking is moderately strenuous. The locals needed nourishment like this to keep up the energy to complete their daily chores. If you think about this historically, the Scottish don’t have the long summers and tepid temperatures needed to grow grain like their southern counterparts, yet they needed adequate fuel to keep them warm and continue to trek from clan to clan and city to city in the harsh winters and cold rains. This was an excellent way to have something both delicious, practical, and nourishing. Balmoral-Chicken - Classic Dishes to try in Scotland
  3. Clam Chowder: with clams caught directly from the sea, boiled in white wine cream sauce then added in with a traditional clam chowder base, it is one of the best things there. I really like to eat something warm at pretty much every meal in Scotland because even though the summers are warmer than you would think, the nights get cold quite quickly. Soup is the best way to warm yourself up, especially if the restaurant has a warm, glowing fire to pair it with. clam chowder - Classic Dishes to try in Scotland
  4. Hotch-Potch: I never was able to try this dish during my trip, but the Scottish Locals told me I had to come back and try REAL Hotch-Potch (oh darn, guess I will have to go back:)
scottish hotch potch 5. Bannocks and Parritch – It’s actually much better than it looks. It fills you up, keeps the bowels regular thanks to all the fiber included, and gives you the bannocks at the end to slather with yummy, sweet Jam. I was told that if you go to Scotland and don’t at least have this for one breakfast meal, then you didn’t really visit Scotland. bannocks and parritch -Classic Dishes to try in Scotland
–>Please know that I am not a great cook myself, and thus am not picky when it comes to trying new dishes, as long as they don’t contain bell peppers, mushrooms, or any part of the animal head or genitals. I will pretty much try everything else. I also hate spicy foods due to heartburn flares. So, as a person with Scottish Heritage, and after talking with the locals, these are the dishes that were recommended to me while I was there. Happy Travels, Happy Tummy, Happy Tales <–

For more about Scotland read:

 The Battle for Culloden

Outlander Self Guided Tour


]]>