LandLopers Sat, 30 Jul 2016 11:11:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Photo Series: My Favorite Landmarks Around the World Fri, 29 Jul 2016 04:55:44 +0000 While it’s all the rage to say as a traveler that you “go off the beaten path” or discover “hidden gems,” the truth is that many of us travel to … Read More

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While it’s all the rage to say as a traveler that you “go off the beaten path” or discover “hidden gems,” the truth is that many of us travel to see of those amazing and iconic landmarks found around the world. For whatever reason, they have captured our collective imaginations and are important for us to see when we travel. There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m a big proponent of being a corny tourist and so with that in mind, here are some of my favorite landmarks that I have been fortunate enough to visit over the years.

Sydney Opera House

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Tower Bridge London UK

Tower Bridge, London


Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Pyramid of Khafre Cairo Egypt

Pyramids of Egypt

Eiffel Tower Paris

Eiffel Tower

Lincoln Memorial Washington DC

Lincoln Memorial , Washington, DC

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Brandenburg Gate Berlin Germany

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Treasury at Petra

Petra, Jordan

Table Mountain

Cape Town


Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad, Curacao

Stonehenge England UK

Stonehenge, England

Machu Picchu Peru

Machu PIcchu, Peru

Great Wall China

Great Wall of China

San Marino

San Marino

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Relaxing in the Virginia Countryside at Salamander Resort & Spa Fri, 29 Jul 2016 04:50:36 +0000 Recently I spent a weekend getting away from it all. My goal was simple, to go on a digital detox and not be online for an entire weekend. While this … Read More

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Salamander Resort Virginia

Recently I spent a weekend getting away from it all. My goal was simple, to go on a digital detox and not be online for an entire weekend. While this may not seem like much to most people, for someone who lives online as I do, it was a challenge. As soon as I arrived at the Salamander Resort though I knew I had made the right decision for my weekend getaway. Tucked away in the rolling farmlands of Virginia amongst the horse farms and wineries, it feels like a world away, even though it’s a short and very easy drive from the Washington, DC metro area. The Salamander Resort & Spa is one of the newer luxury properties in Virginia, but it’s already one of the state’s most well known and I had long wanted to visit and see what makes it so special. While I was only there for a short, if not relaxing, weekend, I quickly understood why everyone loves this resort so very much.

Where and What is Salamander?

Middleburg, Virginia is a small town that has had an unusually profound impact on our nation’s history, thanks in large part to its proximity to the capital. Just 20-minutes from Dulles International Airport and 40-minutes from DC itself, the town is close by, but driving in it felt as if I were closer to my own hometown far away in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the civil war touched this community, it wasn’t until the 20th century when the well to do began to notice the town. Fox hunting and equestrian activities drew visitors from around the world, earning it the nickname as the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital.” Over the years Middleburg has attracted the attention of many notable personalities from John. F. Kennedy to Elizabeth Taylor and even former First Lady Laura Bush. There’s something special about the community, as I discovered while spending an afternoon exploring the compact but lovingly maintained 19th-century downtown. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the businesses include shops and restaurants and even the oldest continually operated inn in the country. But it was a different sort of inn that had attracted me to the town, a large 340-acre property known simply as the Salamander Resort.

It’s an odd name, taken from the code name for a WWII hero, but it’s also a nod to the mythical creature the salamander that can walk through fire. That’s exactly what the resort’s founder and visionary Sheila Johnson has had to do many times in her own life, all to amazing success.

As one of the co-founders of BET, Johnson has long been an important fixture in Washington, DC, also serving as owner or partner in three DC sports franchises. Salamander wasn’t her first foray into hospitality; Johnson also owns several other impressive properties, including the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Florida. Maybe it’s her impressive background and experience that ultimately convinced Middleburg to allow the construction of what has become one of the region’s most impressive getaway destinations.

Salamander Virginia

Amazing Experiences

Any great luxury getaway, and especially a destination resort, is necessarily all about the experiences we enjoy while there. It’s important what the hotel offers to help guests detach and enjoy themselves, and luckily for me I was spoiled for choice at Salamander. Given the region and city’s fame for all things equestrian, Salamander has a robust program for anyone with an interest in horses. Spanning all ability levels, there are plenty of ways horse-lovers can get out and enjoy being with these beautiful animals. Salamander has a large Equestrian Center with 22 stalls and plenty of trails and unique programming for guests and visitors. While I like looking at horses, I’m not a big fan of riding them and so I looked to the resort’s other activities, of which there are many. One thing though that caught my eye in particular was something I hadn’t seen before at a hotel – the Cooking Studio.

Adjacent to the main kitchens, this isn’t merely a demonstration kitchen. It’s a uniquely designed workspace where guests attend any number of classes and lessons. I was in luck though, the Saturday of my visit was a planned class on desserts and ice creams, led by the resort’s impressive Executive Pastry Chef, Jason Reaves. Under his expert guidance, the class spent a few hours learning how to make ice creams, sorbets, cookies and more all on our own. Donning aprons and armed with recipes, Chef Reaves guided us through the process, but individually we all did our own work. In all honesty, this was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had at any hotel or resort anywhere. There’s nothing like learning how to cook something delicious from a professional, and being able to walk through the professional kitchens and watch the chef work his own magic was amazing. Naturally, the sweet reward at the end was a delicious selection of ice creams and other tasty treats, the perfect end to the experience. If desserts aren’t your thing (which is a little odd) there are any number of different classes and demonstrations offered, but whatever your interest, make sure to enjoy at least one activity at the Cooking Studio.

For something a little more active, I took to the trees. Set in the beautiful forests surrounding the property is a zip line course, a tree top experience that is just as fun as it sounds. For more than two hours we zipped from tree to tree with our instructors, walked along rope bridges and just enjoyed being outside on a nice Virginia summer’s day. I love balancing active pursuits with, well, less active, and the zip line was an exciting way to cap off an amazing weekend.

Relaxed Luxury

Salamander though is ultimately a luxury resort, and the amenities and design are both equally important at this expansive estate. Designed to look like a country manor, that’s exactly the feeling you get walking in through the front doors, the large common room full of comfy couches and chairs, a distinguished but relaxing place to enjoy some time. All of the public areas follow that same ethos, a relaxed country estate not lacking in luxury, but inviting at the same time. It’s hard to pull off those two concepts, but Salamander Resort seems to excel at it. It’s a feeling that is thankfully carried through to the rooms themselves.


The “standard” guest room is anything but standard, large spaces with spacious sitting areas, dining tables and more than half even have a beautiful gas fireplace. Walking in I thought I had been upgraded but, no, this is just what every guest to the resort enjoys. The rooms also feature a large 40-inch flat panel TV and a smaller 19-inch version in the bath. Speaking of the bath, I was immediately in my happy place as I walked in.

Marble shower with multiple jets, a pedestal tub and amenities to make even the most critical guest smile. Another standard feature I loved is the private balcony, each one with table and chairs perfect to enjoy those expansive countryside views. It’s a place to get away from all of your concerns, a safe haven and was a room I didn’t want to soon leave.


The Cooking Studio should have been a dead giveaway, but food is a very important part of the experience at Salamander Resort and to experience the best of what they have to offer, there was no better dinner choice than their Harrimans Grill. Harrimans bills itself as a Piedmont grill, taking the best of the local Piedmont region and incorporating it into everything they do. While there are a variety of options for all tastes, asking around I found out that they’re particularly well known for their steaks, which luckily happens to me my favorite meal.

Ordering a filet with a host of sides, we enjoyed one the best steak dinners we’ve enjoyed in a long time, followed by S’Mores next to the fire pit just outside. It was the perfect foodie evening but it’s just one of the many dining options found onsite. From casual to more formal, there’s a lot of choice here and thanks to those excellent chefs, all of it is delicious.


The DC region does not suffer from a lack of great luxury hotels and resorts. Both the District and Virginia have many from which to choose, each different and each special to be honest. Salamander Resort appealed to me so much for a few reasons, not the least of which is how close it is to the city. A very easy drive from Washington, its position in rural Virginia really does make it feel like a world away. Add in more activities than you could ever possibly do in one stay, great food and some of the best service I’ve enjoyed in a long time and you really do have a resort that quickly surpasses all expectations. This is a fun but elegant getaway and a destination I can’t wait to revisit and continue exploring.

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Driving the German Fairy Tale Route – What It’s Really Like Thu, 28 Jul 2016 04:55:33 +0000 As soon as I first learned about the German Fairy Tale driving route, I knew it was something I had to try for myself. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, … Read More

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Marburg Germany

As soon as I first learned about the German Fairy Tale driving route, I knew it was something I had to try for myself. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, this 370-mile route starts in Hanau and ends in Bremen, featuring the cities, natural landscapes and landmarks that both celebrate the Brothers Grimm as well as inspired them. I think it’s this intertwining of history, culture and exploration that interested me the most. In the collection of great drives around the world it’s a fairly unique combination, highlighting much of what makes Germany so uniquely fun to explore. It’s also a very long route with lots to see and do along the way and since I didn’t feel like burdening you all with a 5,000 word essay detailing the intricacies of the drive, I thought instead I would share some of the important moments along the way, in addition to what it’s really like to drive this long stretch of winding road through Germany.

Hann. Munden Germany

Learn to appreciate the drive itself

I’ve done a lot of road trips in my life and lately it’s been my preferred mode of travel. There’s nothing quite so liberating as having a car at your disposal and the open road waiting to be explored. It’s an exciting way to travel, beholden to no one else’s schedule, not dependent on planes or trains instead your own intuition and curiosity are firmly in charge. But it takes a little getting used to, especially the many hours spent in the car, with nothing to occupy your time except your own thoughts. Aside from having my road trip playlist, this solitude is one reason why I enjoy road trips in places where the stops are frequent and the sights plentiful. The German Fairy Tale Route fulfills both of those needs and while I made many stops during my week of driving, I could have made even more. There’s a lot to see and do along this route, much more than I had time to fully explore. In addition to those stops though, I really enjoyed seeing the more rural areas of Germany. Farms and small communities tucked away and isolated, a far cry from the large cities I normally visit. When you plan your own trip, the best thing to do is to take out an old-fashioned map and identify those towns and sights that mean the most to you, and then plan your drive accordingly. But definitely plan for at least a week, preferably more, to really do justice to this fun drive.

German Fairy Tale Route Germany

Small towns and castles

One of the best parts of driving the German Fairy Tale Route are the many small towns and communities where the spirit of the Brothers Grimm is alive and well. These towns are important stops along the drive, but aside from their Grimm connections they’re also lovely towns to explore in their own right. The German Fairy Tale Route also closely mirrors another great German drive, the Half-Timbered Houses Route. That means that many of the towns you visit all have that classic, gingerbread house look that many of us associate with traditional Germany and add color and interest to an already great driving experience.

One of my favorite small towns along the route is Alsfeld, one of the region’s most important medieval cities. It’s a town where I think everyone should spend at least a few hours exploring, admiring not only the architecture but the great spirit still found around town today. This is also Little Red Riding Hood country, her clothes likely influenced by the unique regional traditional dress some women still wear today. Be sure to enjoy lunch at the local favorite Gasthaus Kartoffelsack, where the potato is glorified in every possible way and manner of preparation.

Castles are also easy to find not only along the Fairy Tale Route, but throughout Germany really. My favorite one to explore is the so-called Rapunzel Castle, otherwise known as Trendelburg Castle. Today a restaurant and hotel, the central high tower may have served as the inspiration for the original fairy tale, or not. Regardless of the truth of the legend, the castle is beautifully restored and sits in a region so uniquely picturesque, that it looks as if it leapt off the pages of those fairy tales we all know and love. It was one of my favorite stops along the way and a fun one too.


Natural retreats

Just as important as small communities are to the German Fairy Tale Route, so are the natural elements found in every Brothers Grimm story. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected their stories, but they added their own elements to them as well, usually drawing inspiration from areas with which they were already familiar. When it came time to illustrate these tales, those artists also were inspired by what they knew, namely the regions where they lived. What that means for us is that many of the fixtures important in the fairy tales are real life places you can see, touch and experience. It really is like living in a fairy tale and is a special part of the experience along the German Fairy Tale Route. Some of the most iconic natural retreats featured in the stories are the beautiful forests and ponds near the small town of Hess. Lichtenau – the birthplace of the popular Frau Holle story. While not very well known in the English-speaking world, the story of Frau Holle is arguably one of the most important fairy tales within Germany itself. It’s also a very old tale, taking inspiration from pagan mythology and even the oldest worship of the Mother goddess that was common amongst the original Europeans thousands of years ago. Perhaps that’s why the outdoor elements are so critical to the story, and you can visit them in the forests of the High Meissner Mountain, where the pond of Frau Holle is still honored even today. Long believed to be the source of the tale, evidence has been found of ancient ceremonies taking place here, celebrating the new seasons and the bounty of the earth. It’s an important connection to our earliest ancestors and a fascinating continuation of millennia of thought and belief.

steinau germany

Great hotels and food

Of course, if you’re going to spend a week or more driving the long route, where you spend the night and the cuisine you experience are just as important as those castles and forests. Since the route goes through small communities, some of the accommodations are smaller, but that doesn’t mean they lack in amenities. My first night I stayed in a 400-year old half-timbered building in the middle of the very small town of Steinau. While it wasn’t the Ritz, it was a wonderful experience because it brought me into the middle of life in this small town. I felt as if I was a part of the community, and staying in my own gingerbread house was the perfect first introduction to the driving route. There are also several castle-hotels along the way if you really want to feel like you’re a character in a fairy tale, all ancient buildings that have been lovingly converted into modern hotels. Sababurg near Kassel and the Schlosshotel Münchhausen near Hameln are fantastic, but so is the mysterious Castle Berlepsch in Witzenhausen. This imposing castle has been in the same family for 19 generations spanning over 700 years and today it’s open to guests. While there are only two suites available at any one time, this was one of the most relaxing and interesting experiences during my time driving through Germany.

Food naturally is at the heart of any travel experience in Germany, no matter where in the country you are. Along the way from Steinau to Bremen, I noticed a lot of familiar meals, from the southern inspired schnitzel to more modern cuisine prepared with care and finesse. It was in Bremen though where I was introduced to a regional classic that while heavy, was also tasty – knipp. Like most local delicacies, knipp has very humble beginnings, a way to use leftover meats from other meals. Over time, this concoction made of an assortment of meats, oats, seasonings and other bits has turned into a wintertime tradition in Bremen, usually served with applesauce, potatoes, pickles and of course bread.

Bremen Germany

Big cities

The German Fairy Tale Route isn’t all cute small towns and castles though, several larger cities figure prominently in the story of the Brothers Grimm, most notably Kassel. It was actually my visit to Kassel in 2015 that inspired my 2016 drive, and I returned there again to see the newest addition to the city, the Brothers Grimm World. This large interactive museum shares the story of the Brothers Grimm, their lives and their impressive body of work in as modern a way as I’ve ever seen. Also presented are those famous fairy tales, although in ways you’ve never before seen. Aside from the Grimm heritage, Kassel itself has a lot to offer and is a fun city to explore. Hameln, while not huge, is another one of the larger cities on the route. Of course we all know it best for the Pied Piper, which was based on a real event, but I was immediately impressed by the city itself. Lively and colorful, it’s a city where I could spend several days, just enjoying the experience of being there and learning more about its impressive history. By far the largest city on the driving route though is the Hanseatic city of Bremen. Always an important place for trade and shipping, that legacy is alive and well today and the city honestly needs several days to see and explore everything it has to offer. Aside from the associated fairy tale, it’s also home to a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site, the gorgeous town hall and nearby statue of Roland. My favorite moment in the city though was enjoying a leisurely dinner along the river where dozens of biergartens had sprung up to take advantage of the warm summer days. It was a perfect way to finish my long drive and a great meal as well.

Marburg Germany


While the German Fairy Tale Route is a tourism construct, it serves a very real and tangible purpose. It introduces visitors to the beautiful legacy of those classic tales, the very real places throughout Germany that inspired some of the most important and well-known stories in the world. We all want to escape a little when we travel, pretend we’re someone else in a land far and away and here, on this drive it’s possible in a way that’s hard to find. It’s also just a lot of fun, following your nose as you explore small little pockets of the country and figuring out for yourself what your own personal version of the German Fairy Tale Route looks like. There’s nothing better than a great road trip and without a doubt, the German Fairy Tale Route is one of the best in the world.

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Quiet Pasture in the Lake District, England Thu, 28 Jul 2016 04:50:27 +0000 The post Quiet Pasture in the Lake District, England appeared first on LandLopers.

Lake District England UK

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Exploring the Quirky Side of Traditional Food in Newfoundland Wed, 27 Jul 2016 04:55:20 +0000 Reading through the list of dishes it sounded as if the entire culinary history of Newfoundland and Labrador was based on a dare. The ingredients used weren’t known to me, … Read More

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Newfoundland and Labrador Canada

Reading through the list of dishes it sounded as if the entire culinary history of Newfoundland and Labrador was based on a dare. The ingredients used weren’t known to me, they aren’t common and they seemed downright strange. But I was curious, curious about the food for sure, but also curious about the Canadian province on the far eastern edges of the continent and what stories I could learn from the dishes themselves. Food is the best way to learn about any new destination and culture, whether it’s something totally foreign to us or from a neighboring country. There are nuances that we don’t notice unless we really look for them, and that was my goal with food in Newfoundland. I wanted to experience as much as I could, which is why one of my first stops was with a local company in St. John’s whose sole goal in life is to introduce locals and visitors alike to the nuances of Newfoundland cuisine.

Lori McCarthy has a long history with the food industry, something she missed while on maternity leave. Looking for a way to reenter the industry, but in a different and ultimately more satisfying way, she started the company Cod Sounds to share with the world the foods and traditions she grew up with. A cod sound is the air bladder of the cod, and when Newfoundland existed as the world’s preeminent exporter of cod, it was one of the few parts of the fish that no one wanted. That meant locals learned how to cook and eat it, along with other fish offal, in a fierce determination to simply survive. Lori named her company as a nod and testament to the spirit of adventure and ingenuity of those who came before her and, as I learned, that culinary creativity is still alive and well in the 21st century.

The Fish Shaped Elephant in the Room

Newfoundland was settled for fishing and for centuries, even today, the bounty of the sea is at the center of life in the province. That means the cuisine, culture – everything – is essentially centered on the cod. That’s fine and good for them, but I don’t eat fish or seafood, as I have had to explain many times, most recently in this post. I know, I’m a terrible person, but there’s no changing it so that means, for the purpose of this post, there is a huge category of foodstuffs not included, namely anything that ever lived in the water. My apologies, I am sorry, believe me my life would be easier if I could eat it. But I can’t, so we’ll just have to make due. But what should be known is that when you visit Newfoundland, you will find fish and seafood in every possible form everywhere you go. When Newfoundlanders say fish, they only mean cod. If they’re eating salmon they would say salmon, but fish is always the much-loved cod. Served as a basic filet (probably caught that day) to fish cakes and fish and chips, if there’s a way to prepare it, the people in Newfoundland and Labrador have spent four-centuries perfecting it. But the food culture in this beautiful part of the world is about much more than just fish, believe it or not, and I hope that these other dishes and traditions will go beyond the basic cod dinner and shine a light on an interesting and delicious food culture.

Toutons and Trinity Bread

One theme you’ll notice running through all of these traditional dishes is that they seem basic, which is true. For centuries, most of the people living in Newfoundland and Labrador were poor, they were fishermen or earned a living in an affiliated industry. Most were also from Ireland or England, so they brought with them not only those thick accents you still hear today, but the delicious food culture of those regions. One of those traditions is their bread. Never one to turn down fried dough, I was excited as Lori and I visited a local restaurant for a simple breakfast of toutons. Toutons are just fried pieces of dough, traditionally cooked in pork fat, that are served hot with butter and molasses lathered over them. Molasses is actually common in many recipes throughout the province thanks to the former trading culture of selling dried cod to the markets of Europe. Molasses came from the West Indies and was one of the items bartered for when it came time to sell the fish. That’s why even today you’ll find this thick syrup featured in a variety of ways, most deliciously as an accompaniment to the piping hot touton.

Bread was also typically made simply, cooked in rolls of 3-4 and what is called Trinity or Holy Bread. These are pulled apart and are great to go alongside meals, or to also eat with some butter and molasses. That’s actually how guests to the Fogo Island Inn are first welcomed; with a beautiful plate of hot bread and molasses; as traditional a welcome as any.

Things in Jars

One of my biggest surprises was the prevalence of preserved and pickled foods, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. All I had to do was think about my grandparents and I would have anticipated it in Newfoundland. My grandparents lived in rural Maine and every year they would set aside vegetables and fruits from their massive garden and preserve them for the long winter ahead. The same happens in Newfoundland and for the same reason, they just take it a little further than I am used to seeing. In addition to the vegetables, jarred meat is also common, including moose and seal. Taking a look at the jar I gingerly treated it as I would a science experiment gone rogue, but I was assured that when cooked “properly” the meat tastes great. Used in stews and traditional dinners, these jarred delicacies were just a part of life for a very long time.


Speaking of moose, turns out it’s delicious – who knew? I’m used to seeing signs for these massive animals along the highways in Maine and other northern states, but never have I sat down to enjoy a meal with this ungainly animal at its center. Sitting in Lori’s kitchen, I could tell that she was excited for me to try an expertly prepared moose steak. Although moose aren’t really all that traditional in Newfoundland – they were only introduced in the 20th century – they quickly became popular and I soon learned why. The moose tenderloin is treated just as you would a fine steak, cooking it to a nice medium or medium-rare, seasoning it before adding to the hot pan. I anticipated a more gamey taste, like venison or caribou, but was surprised after my first bite. It not only looked like a great steak, but it tasted like one too. With some roasted root vegetables on the side, it’s a hearty meal but also a tasty one.

Seal Flipper

Yes, you read that correctly, the flipper of a seal. In the 18th and 19th centuries the seal trade become abundant, before stocks were depleted in the late 19th century. With that came a familiarization with the seal, including how best to eat it. This traditional meal though actually started well before then, almost immediately upon the arrival of the first settlers in the 16th century. While the hunts were more modest back then, they still took place in the spring, making the seal flipper pie a popular, if not odd, Lenten staple. It was an important food though; high in nutrients it provided sustenance to people who frankly didn’t have much. It was also the only part of the seal that couldn’t be sold off, so locals had to find another use for it. I admit it, I chickened out when presented with a plate of seal flipper. I just couldn’t imagine myself eating this cute animal, but I’m told it’s tough and gamey, which is probably why it’s served most commonly in a pie to mask the texture and flavor.

Brawn and Puddings

Regions that have known centuries of relative poverty have always found a way to make the most out of every part of the animal. You see that in every country from the US to Ireland and the UK and definitely in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today many of those once unseemly foods are amongst the most sought after, gaining prominence in well-to-do restaurants as a sort of delicacy. One of those is brawn, which is just another type of terrine or pate. Traditionally made from cow or pig’s head, today the ingredients are more similar to what is included in a great terrine, and is eaten exactly the same way. They are harder to find nowadays though in Newfoundland, but Lori knows of a third-generation grocer that still provides brawn and other classic Newfoundlander meats to its customers. Occupying a quiet corner in downtown St. John’s, Halliday’s Meat Market has been serving customers for more than a century and today is one of the last places offering traditional Newfoundland meats, including brawn. Taking the delicacy back to the kitchen, I was pleased to discover that it tasted just like any other great terrine, especially when served with some fresh bread.

Also common with meals are white and black puddings, which many of you may be used to seeing on breakfast plates in Ireland and Scotland. With the look and feel of a sausage, the white pudding is made from pork meat and fat, bread, oatmeal and other ingredients to form the link. Black pudding is a type of blood sausage made using the same ingredients found in white pudding, but with the addition of pork blood. I’ve had both many times and enjoy them, although admittedly not in large quantities. What these foods show us though is the importance of the Irish and British traditions in Newfoundland and how most have them really haven’t changed much at all over the centuries. It’s a cultural and culinary time capsule that is fun and fascinating to explore.

Traditional Sunday Dinners

In any hardworking culture, Sunday meals were very important, just as they are today. It was a religious day but also a rare day of rest, making the large family gathering an important event. In Newfoundland the most important meal on Sundays is the very traditional Jiggs Dinner. The typical components include corned beef, cabbage and a variety of boiled root vegetables. My fellow Americans may recognize this as something many of us eat on St. Patrick’s Day, yet another clue to the massive numbers of Irish who settled in Newfoundland. But a great Sunday meal doesn’t have to be Jiggs Dinner, it’s any combination really of hearty meats and vegetables, just like the ones I tried many times during my trip to include everything from turkey to roast beef. While simple, they were delicious, just as any great comfort food should be.

Parting Thoughts

There’s naturally a lot more to food in Newfoundland than what I’ve shared here. Raisin buns, berries of all kinds and seaside boil-ups are also major aspects of traditional food in the province. But just as in every other part of the world, those traditions are changing and people are adding new foods from around the world to their daily lives. But in spite of this globalization and the fact that I could upload a photo even in the most remote of areas in the province, these are still very isolated communities. They may be fully connected to the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is connected with them. Because of that these, along with many other, delicious food customs and traditions haven’t only been preserved, but they’re still being handed down to the next generations. That’s special and rare to find today and that makes eating your way through Newfoundland and Labrador an experience unlike any other.

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Different View of Stonehenge Wed, 27 Jul 2016 04:50:40 +0000 The post Different View of Stonehenge appeared first on LandLopers.

Stonehenge England UK

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Trials and Habits of the Highly Sensitive Traveler Tue, 26 Jul 2016 04:55:36 +0000 It seems nowadays everyone has a disorder or something identifiably wrong with them, but maybe that’s just because we’re finally recognizing as a society the nuances of mental health and … Read More

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Flowers Washington DC

It seems nowadays everyone has a disorder or something identifiably wrong with them, but maybe that’s just because we’re finally recognizing as a society the nuances of mental health and that there isn’t a crazy versus not-crazy red line anymore. We are all unique individuals, but amongst us is a large group of folks (myself included) who deal with something that most of the time doesn’t really affect our daily lives, but it’s always there, hovering in the background. The highly sensitive personality trait is found amongst 20 percent of the population, this commonly misunderstood trait doesn’t necessarily mean introversion, although it can. No, instead it’s about how people see and interpret the world, how we react to various stimulation and how we process everything from large crowds to criticism. It can have its challenges in daily life, but those challenges can become pronounced in the travel setting. So today I thought I’d share a few of the habits and characteristics of the highly sensitive traveler, and how we can learn to improve our travel experience with a few easy changes.


What You Should Know About The Highly Sensitive Traveler

We feel very deeply

Since we are so sensitive that also means our sense of intuition is higher than others and we tend to be very empathic. But that also becomes a problem when we travel with other people. We love traveling with other people, so much so that we worry constantly about whether or not they’re having a good time. Did they really like that museum or are they just saying that to be polite? They agreed a little too quickly to that dinner suggestion, they probably want something else. As a sensitive traveler, we honestly care whether or not everyone is having a good time. Usually though, we take this to an extreme level and can make ourselves miserable in the process. It drives me crazy and I do everything I can to make sure everyone else’s needs are taken care of to the point where I ignore my own. So, if you find yourself traveling with someone like me, have some patience and be sure to constantly say how much fun you’re having.

Travel planning is time-consuming and complicated

Highly sensitive people are more aware of the nuances of decisions, which makes decision-making time consuming and laborious. I’m not talking about life altering decisions here either; it can be as simple as languishing over a menu where there is no right or wrong choice. Instead though, we will perceive right and wrong choices and then spend time trying to determine which ones those are. When planning a trip, this can become crippling. I think that’s one reason why I am an admitted over-planner. By spending weeks and months before a personal vacation to plan out every detail, I’ve subconsciously taken all the guesswork out of the trip, thereby minimizing the decision-making time once I’m traveling. Naturally, this doesn’t translate very well to the travel experience where spontaneity is a traveler’s best quality. It’s taken me years, but I’ve loosened up a bit, although I will always make a detailed itinerary before any trip – I couldn’t imagine NOT doing that.

Unique qualities make highly sensitive people better travelers

While some of our personality quirks may seem insane to other people, many of these same qualities actually help us out a lot in the context of travel. We are very detail oriented, as I alluded to in the previous point, and no aspect of a trip will go without a thorough examination. If left to our own devices, we’ll never miss a flight, see every amazing sight and eat at the best restaurants, thoroughly researched well in advance. But it also helps us meet and learn from locals wherever we go. We’re highly conscientious people, we tend to have better manners than others and we definitely consider the emotions of others in a way uncommonly found. We imagine everyone to be like us, and so we don’t want to do anything that would also upset us. For the non-highly sensitive person then, it would appear as if we’re ultra-polite when, in reality, we’re just experiencing the world as we would prefer it to be. This opens doors though, it makes people more likely to chat with us and in turn, we tend to see a different side to a destination than others might be privy to.

Pisac Peru

What Highly Sensitive Travelers Should Keep In Mind

We’re not crazy

While at times it may sound as if we’re nuts, especially after reading this post, we’re not. There are a lot of us out there and for whatever reason, this is the way we were born. For as long as I can remember, everyone has always told me to stop being so sensitive, and why couldn’t I take a joke. I felt bad, I felt as if I had a deficiency somewhere that made me less than other people. This actually has affected me a lot throughout my life and it was only realizing that I wasn’t alone that it got better. I am sensitive and that’s not going to change, nor will it for anyone who is highly sensitive. What we can do though is learn how to deal with it, and that’s especially true when we travel.

Step back and relax

One of the cardinal traits is that we are very quick to intense emotions, no matter the type. Given our sensitivities, we feel at a different level, which can mean crying at the drop of a hat or being far more ebullient than we should be. We need to recognize this about ourselves and learn how to dial it back, especially when we’re traveling. If we miss a flight or are late to something, we need to learn how to deal with these situations in a more moderate and less extreme way. We need to step back and think about solutions instead of letting our emotions carry the day. We also need to allow other people to NOT be sensitive, to NOT want to plan every aspect of every trip and allow for that spontaneity to exist. But it’s hard. It’s hard to let go and to run the risk of not doing or seeing something IMPORTANT. It doesn’t make sense, I get it, it’s an emotional response on my part. I get twitchy and anxious without having a plan of action so lately I’ve decided to be both an over-planner and a spontaneous traveler. Before leaving home I’ll go ahead and make up that plan of action, but then once I start the trip I tend to ignore large parts of it. This slightly off-kilter way of traveling fools my brain, allows me to relax a little and have those special unplanned travel moments.

Learn to embrace the travel experience for what it is

Believe me, it’s not that we don’t want to enjoy travel experiences as they happen, it’s just hard to shut off our brains sometimes and just absorb the situation. That’s why when I do find that special place or activity that gives me the chance to not get lost in my own thoughts, but rather get lost in the experience it suddenly becomes THE BEST THING EVER. We’re also somewhat prone to overstatement and make attachments quickly, so those nice places become life-changing, forever endearing destinations. I think that’s one reason why I seek out amazing experiences more than anything else. Walking around old buildings is fine, but I need to DO something, I need to concentrate on something other than my own inner-monologue in order to truly have a great time.

We’re quirky and a little different, but believe it or not, traveling with a highly sensitive traveler will actually help your travel experience and not hinder it.

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Stately Windsor Castle, England Tue, 26 Jul 2016 04:50:55 +0000 The post Stately Windsor Castle, England appeared first on LandLopers.

Windsor Castle England UK

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6 Reasons Why NOW Is The Perfect Time To Visit England Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:55:42 +0000 As a kid growing up, the first place that really interested me was the United Kingdom. I’ve always been an Anglophile and growing up I learned as much as I … Read More

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kayaking england lake district

As a kid growing up, the first place that really interested me was the United Kingdom. I’ve always been an Anglophile and growing up I learned as much as I could about every region of the nation. England in particular resonated with me strongly, probably because of my family lineage, and it’s why it was the first place I visited as a young solo traveler after I graduated from college. That fierce love and admiration has never diminished; if anything it’s only been amplified over the years as I’ve learned and discovered more about this endlessly fascinating country. Today though I want to share a few reasons why I think NOW is a great to visit England, why it’s the perfect time to pack up your bags and discover this wonderful destination for yourself. This post was written in cooperation with VisitBritain as part of a project with iambassador, but of course all thoughts and opinions (and my fierce love of England) are entirely my own.

Bath England


As I’m sure many folks know, right now is an amazing time to visit England thanks in large part to the conversion rates between the US Dollar and the British Pound. Rates are at astonishing lows, which means visitors can get a lot more bang for the buck. This makes a huge difference over the course of a trip and everything from eating out to hotel stays are suddenly much more affordable. But there are also many ways to enjoy England without breaking the bank. There are plenty of castles, museums and landmarks throughout England that are completely free to visit. Whether it’s Durham Cathedral in Northeastern England or the Tate Liverpool Museum or just wandering around the town of Avebury, there’s no shortage of free attractions. Also most cities in England have free tours available, whether it’s Bath or Manchester. To find more discounts on attractions and transportation be sure to check out the VisitBritain Shop website.

Easy to Reach and Get Around

Traveling to England from the U.S. is extraordinarily easy, affordable and there are plenty of options. British Airways, for example, flies from 22 US cities and its aircraft offer 4 classes of service, and of course that first warm English welcome of your trip. I’ve had the great opportunity to fly with British Airways several times, and everything about them makes the airline an easy and fantastic option. What you pay is all-inclusive, so there are no extra fees for anything, whether it’s bags or the food and drinks offered onboard. Once you reach England, you have plenty of options to get around this beautiful country. I’m a big fan of just renting a car and hitting the open road, but train and bus routes and schedules make not driving an equally easy way to discover England.

England Lake District UK

Amazing Towns and Cities

There’s nothing better than exploring the many great villages, towns and cities around England, from the hustling and bustling to the small getaways tucked away in the countryside or along the seaside. One of my favorite areas to explore is popular for many, the Lake District. Located in northwest England, the Lake District has long been a holiday retreat for city dwellers seeking lakes, mountains and beautiful forests. This area has inspired poets, authors and artists and it definitely inspired me. The Lake District is what we all perceive England to look like. Sheep dot the hills, which are rolling to the point of absurdity, almost like living in a Seuss book. Around every corner you expect Peter Cottontail to dart past and the region itself has a unique ability to calm even the most harried soul.

Bacon sandwich, London, UK

Food and Drink (Yes, really)

Historically, English food has not had the best public relations. And you know what, for a long time that was probably well deserved. But that hasn’t been the case in a long time and I’ll tell you why. First of all, I personally love the classic English dishes you can find throughout the country from local pubs to quiet little cafes and restaurants. There’s a lot to be said for a traditional Yorkshire pudding or a full English breakfast, and even my favorite dessert – sticky toffee pudding. But aside from the traditional, there’s also a lot of creativity and innovation happening everywhere with young chefs moving back home and creating menus that draw upon local foods and traditions, but with modern twists. Speaking of pubs, a traditional English pub is a cultural experience and not just one for a quick pint. There you can enjoy some tasty British brews, but also chat with locals and learn more about the communities; many of which are centered on pub-life. But there’s also innovation happening in the drinks culture, especially when it comes to gins. Throughout the country, small distilleries are popping up, creating new and tasty gins based on a variety of botanicals that speak to their regions. All in all, England is a fantastic place to visit if you’re a foodie and it really is one of my favorite places in the world to enjoy a great meal.

Honister Engand UK

Exciting Experiences

While I am a luxury traveler, I also love active experiences when I travel. Actually, that’s really what modern luxury is all about and England is one of the best places to find these activities. One of my favorites happened in the aforementioned Lake District when I took a canoe out on beautiful Derwentwater. Derwentwater is one of the largest lakes in the District and as I soon learned, also one of the most beautiful. While you can admire it from shore, the only way to really experience it is on the water. There are few things I enjoy more than being on the water, especially in a kayak. I always find the experience to be calming and relaxing while simultaneously active. It’s a great symbiosis of frenetic and sedate, making it a fun travel experience no matter where you are. For something even more active though, there’s no better option than the Via Ferrata in an old coalmine near Honister Pass. Even though I was too chicken to actually go through with the experience, there’s no doubt that if you’re an adrenalin junky, then this is the experience for you. In simple terms, the Via Ferrata course uses a series of metal cables, rungs, ladders and bridges over which adventurers scramble up the mountainside, mimicking the road to work miners used to take every day. It’s extreme, challenging and probably fun if you have no fear of heights.

Kensington Palace London England UK

Warm and Welcoming People

Ultimately though, at the heart of the travel experience are the people we meet or who help us along the way. My first experience with warm and welcoming English hospitality happened on my very first night in the country. Connected through an ambiguous connection of friends, I found myself spending a few days in the home of a complete stranger, more than happy to let me crash in an extra bedroom and show me around town. While we had mutual friends, we were strangers and letting me stay there would have been enough to impress me, but of course that’s not where it stopped. Serving as my tour guide, she shared what she loves most about her city and country and on my last night, even organized a classic English garden party with all of her friends. It was a great evening on an unusually warm summer night, complete with far too many Pimm’s cocktails and more food than I thought possible. She was there again in the morning with the hangover cure to beat all hangover cures, the great bacon fry-up along with suggestions as I started the rest of my adventure through the country. It was the perfect first introduction not only to England, but to the wonderful people who call it home and set the stage for many more years of enjoying that hospitality whenever I visit.

These are just a few reasons why NOW really is the perfect time to visit England, what else would you add to the list?


This campaign was created and sponsored by the VisitBritain in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.

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Bird’s Eye View of Honister Pass, England Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:50:45 +0000 The post Bird’s Eye View of Honister Pass, England appeared first on LandLopers.

Honister Pass England UK

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