Cappuccino in Columbia

Latte Art is a delightful presentation of ‘decorated’ coffee and is  always done with care. Apparently it is not exclusive to urban coffee houses!  One would not expect to find such care and artistic ability such as this presentation, in a little out-of -the-way place, a “hidden away backpacker’s paradise”, in Columbia, South America.

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This exquisite work of art was served to an author of a travel blog and his wife in the little town of  Salento, Columbia,  the gateway to the Cocora Valley” where a lot of the different types of coffee beans area grown. Besides coffee beans (and exquisite coffee ‘art’) in the Cocora Valley, one will find the “Parque Nacional de Cafe” (National Coffee Park). This is a theme park offering a museum and exhibitions detailing the history, culture and process of growing and producing coffee. An amusement park also in the valley has rides and shows and is connected to the exhibitions by a cable car (gondola lift); or, one can walk between the two areas via an ecological trail that passes through a plantation of many varieties of coffee bushes.

Perhaps it isn’t such a surprise to discover a carefully (and artistically) decorated Cappucino after all!

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Grab a cup of coffee and settle back for a delightful and entertaining read from Travellingmoons.

Start at the beginning and learn a little more about Travellingmoons here.

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Aachener Weihnachts Markt

 Aachen’s Magical Christmas Market

When a friend shared these photos, nostalgia flooded over me. I knew exactly where she had been even before reading her message.  I had visited this quaint town during the Christmas holiday over 40 years ago (yikes!)

And there it was with all the charm I remembered – shop windows decorated and filled with all things Christmas – lights, cookies, breads, chocolates, toys, ornaments, Nutcrackers. I could even smell the tantalizing and rich aromas of the bakeries and roasting coffee beans that filled the air.

I was immediately transported back to this delightful and ancient village  where shop windows were Christmas Cards and holiday stories come to life!

Aaah — the memories of Aachen, Germany.












Aachen is the westernmost city in Germany; a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia German where the borders of The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany come together. Besides the magic of Christmas, I remembered being intrigued by historical role of Aachen and it’s connection with the emperor Charlemagne. It was a favored royal residence of the emperor and served as the principal coronation site of Holy Roman emperors and German kings from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.

The elegant Aachen Dom (Cathedral), the oldest cathedral in northern Europe, was built by Emperor Charlemagne around 786 AD. The Cathedral Treasury is regarded as one of the most important ecclesiastical treasuries in northern Europe with unique exhibits like the Cross of Lothair, the Bust of Charlemagne and the Persephone sarcophagus.


Since my visit–oh, so many years ago –the Christmas shopping has spilled into the streets becoming the Aachen Christmas Market. In front of the historical setting of the Cathedral and the Town Hall, the Katschhof, one of the most stunning squares in Europe, is also integrated into the festive spectacle.


The streets and squares around the Town Hall  are transformed “into a paradise of lights and coulours, festive sounds and seductive smells….a glorious fair.”

Learn more about this charming city at these sites:

Aachen Tourist Service

German Christmas Markets

Britannica Online Encyclopedia


Timeshare Travel: When in Rome…Visit Delicious Trastevere

The following article is being posted by permission of Red – “The largest online marketplace for timeshares.”


Trastevere – Neighborhood of Rome, Creator of Spaghetti Carbonara (see Bonus Recipe below!)

Travestere is a colorful Roman neighborhood distinctly characterized by its medieval beauty and artistic ambiance. To many Romans, the hum-drum description of “neighborhood” is a misrepresentation of this charmingly eclectic “city within a city”— an endearment with which enthusiasts have crowned this Roman gem.

Travestere is a unique fusion of old world charm and contemporary culture that has blossomed into a rare, inimitable flower. Travestere literally means “across the river,” and it is separated from Rome’s city center by the Tiber River.

For many centuries, this geographical separation mirrored the cultural and social dichotomy of traditional Rome’s working immigrant class and the aristocratic elite. Travestere was an immigrant development of little interest to the rest of Rome. Consequently, it was able to develop and maintain its own cultural map of tradition, cuisine, dialect, and even architecture. Travestere remains one of the only pockets of Rome that has retained its medieval architecture.

The neighborhood’s historical cuisine was characterized by its tear-inducing, spicy ingredients that were as loud and boisterous as the neighborhood dialect. Of course, Travestere’s anomalous cultural coloring and mainstream resistant cuisine were under-appreciated for centuries, but have since emerged as Roman delicacy – a true testament of the experiential and artistic aesthetics that tourists and citizens can’t get enough of.

Trastevere is known as a bohemian’s paradise with art galleries and novel boutiques selling specialty items ranging from vintage trend shoes to one-hundred year old bottles of balsamic vinegar. Travestere has charmed many an onlooker with its closeted squares, hidden coffee bar nooks, and infamous pizzerias. There are as many pizzerias and as there are coffee shops in Travestere.

The pizzas are homemade with fresh ingredients usually gathered that same day. Many pizzerias prepare their food with recipes that have been meticulously passed down through family generations, using Italian specialty ingredients like capers, pesto, olives, and carefully concocted tomato sauces. The pizzas are slowly cooked to perfection in the heart of a traditional brick oven and then ready to serve.

Travestere is often called the district that “never sleeps.” Its urban, chic nightclubs and its traditional street entertainment that assembles in Piazza di Santa Maria, are lively and active throughout the night and wee hours of the morning.

The Piazza di Santa Maria lies in the heart of Travestere. It houses the basilica of Santa Maria which is one of the oldest churches in Rome, built in 300 A.D. The Piazza di Santa Maria is bordered with bright, welcoming cafes and restaurants that offer irresistible meals and picturesque views of the bustling piazza.

Check out available timeshare rentals in Italy.

Bonus Recipe
Either in your Italian timeshare kitchen, or at home, you can have your own taste of Trastevere with this easy-to-prepare recipe. Practically ‘born in’ the Osterie of Trastevere, the Spaghetti Carbonara dish has gained fame worldwide thanks to its simplicity. It has 2 main ingredients besides pasta- eggs and bacon (pancetta). Spaghetti and rigatoni are the types of pastas used for this dish.

Spaghetti Carbonara 
Excerpted from the Gourmand World Award Winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition 
1 lb spaghetti
1 garlic clove
2 ounces bacon or pancetta
2 eggs
1/3 cup pecorino romano cheese grated
handful fresh parsley
extra virgin olive oil
pepper and salt

Cut bacon into thin stick like pieces. Place 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in saucepan with garlic that has been peeled and ‘smashed. Saute till bacon is golden, remove garlic.
Cook pasta till al dente. Drain.
In a bowl, break eggs, and beat with fork, add in 1 tablespoon of pecorino cheese, pinch of salt, freshly grated black pepper.
Place drained pasta in saute pan with bacon, place over low heat.
Pour in beaten eggs, toss in pan till eggs are cooked.
Serve with washed ,chopped parsley, freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese.

Thank you to our guest author, Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati, who writes the Gourmand World Award-winning book series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and is Executive Editor of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati™ blog at as well as creator of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati trademark. She is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and culture.

Photo Credit (top):
Photo Credit (bottom):
Photo Credit (recipe): [7]

Celebrating the Fruits of Labor in Cabriès, France

Come for a visit of Sam’s Garden….

 Cabriès  is a small  mediaeval village perched on a crag in the south of France and strengthened by ancient Provence.

This touching story about a Labor of Love started back in April, when Sam began working steadily at organizing his garden, drawing his rows, installing ‘tomato cages’ where he wanted the plants to be… in short: getting the place absolutely ready for the arrival of a good friend from the US who was coming to visit for a week in May –“just to help in the garden” !

Sam is getting up in years and works much more slowly than before but

still does it as carefully and precisely as ever and…everything has to be done exactly as HE wants it–so he takes his time.  The weather had been very ‘chaotic’ with rain and sunshine chasing each other in the same day; and the temperatures were much cooler than in March, so work in the garden had to be done taking the weather into account.    After a hard freeze in February, the olive trees were looking pretty miserable but at least the worst had been avoided: the trees were not dead!  And a minimal crop would be better than no crop.

Toward the end of May, the weather was more like November with several days of RAIN thoroughly soaking the ground. The friend coming from the US to help Sam plant his garden was due to arrive and it was questionable if they would be able to set foot in it!



Fast forward to August and a Bountiful Harvest:

 The dining room table totally covered with the latest crop just yesterday!!


On the table:  the big dish in front is green chards leaves cooked and cut (half of the crop you can see in the “field picture” –  The white stems are piled up in the big blue pan behind.



 The latest batch of plum preserves (golden on the left, red on the right!)  

      Now…to enjoy the bounty:
  Made stuffed vegetables all day — ate some tonight and will freeze the rest for guests in the Fall!




Best Fish ‘n Chips in London, England, according to Agnes:

“Not cheap but the best skate I ever had!”








47 Endell Street, London, WC2H 9AJ Telephone: 020 7836 3785


In London? Check it out and let us know if you agree!


Magical Midsummer

“In a Dream of Hungarian Lanterns…”

…and so magical!  Although not Hungarian, this scene brings to life those romantic words from “Take This Waltz”, a  Leonard Cohen song. These lanterns were given flight in Poland in June of 2011. The Polish city of Poznan gathered for a mass launch of more than 11’000 lanterns to achieve the world record and create a real-life scene from the Disney movie, “Tangled”.

Midsummer — the time of the summer solstice  — is often considered the ‘longest day of the year’ or in contrast: “the shortest night”  and is celebrated around the world in many ways, by different cultures. The exact dates of celebrations may vary by cultures and customs, but is around June 21.  This lovely description of Polish midsummers is written by Jakub Drajerczak“At the end of June, at the time of Summer Solstice, when night is shortest and Nature bursts with blossoms and growth, we celebrate the Holiday of Fire and Water. . .”  

Having experienced a Scandinavian midsummer celebration of the ‘Midnight Sun’ in Finland, with sauna, traditional foods  (beer and sausages), and huge bonfires floating on the lakes . . . all very magical of its own, now I am captivated by lanterns floating up into the night sky  and I  dream of Hungarian lanterns.   When I watch these videos, I am breathless and my heart skips a beat each time I see them.   This celebration is definitely on my ‘wish list’ of travels!

Read More of Summer Solstice and Midsummer Celebrations:

Midsummer in Poland  

In Scandinavia, Solstice Means Fun in the Midnight Sun    

Places To Enjoy Midsummer in Europe

 Wikipedia Summer Solstice

Mind Body Spirit Astrology – Midsummer 2012: The Heat is On 


Traveling Abroad? Technology helps you to Eat Well & Stay Healthy

Here is a fun new technological twist on eating well while traveling abroad: TRAVEL APPS   — so you can “find healthy and energizing foods that are also authentic to the region.”  It’s like having a “nutritionist in your pocket”  during your travels.

These apps offer guidance for “How” and “Where to Eat Well”,  “Eating Well with Special Dietary Needs“,  and “Cultural insights plus audio files in local languages” to make ordering easy.

Being launched this week by Eat Well Globally are:  “Eat Well Israel, China, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Thailand and Venezuela.”

Read more:

Diamond Jubilee Cookies


From a reader:

The Queen’s Carriage  … too cute to eat and too cute not to!

Golden Carriage Cookies

Thanks Alice!

Off to Jolly Old England?

In Jolly Old England for the Jubilee or perhaps in August for the Olympics? London Street Food Stalls are a tasty adventure!  Choose from any number of these ever popular Gourmet Street Food Vendors for some of the best food in town.

This fun read from The Guardian’s London City Guide is a quick and invigorating look at 10 of the Best London Street Food Stalls –” the best gourmet stalls in the capital offering dishes from around the world.“  Offering more than Tasty English Food with Odd Names,  these street vendors dish up a melting pot of cultural favorites such as “melt-in-the-mouth pulled-pork samies to hot churros”

Check out: EAT MY PIES (quintessential British street food at its best), or the WELL KNEADED WAGON (with a clay oven built into the back, a little red-and-cream food van’s answer to pizza,) and “for the days when only a a pork-bun will do” there is YUM BUN, (also offering veggie options and Asian broths and soups.)

According to this delightful article, it seems “there has been a recent surge in the London street-food scene. The number of vendors is growing.  The standard of the food started high and is getting higher…. These people know food, and theirs is gourmet.”  Read More

Whether taking in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, or just touring the town, keep this list handy or download the foldable A-Z list of London Street Food available for £2 from Boat Studio’s website.



Tasty English Food with Odd Names

Enjoy this fun guest blog from

Tasty English Food with Odd Names

It’s time to start making those plans for your timeshare trip to England for London’s 2012 Summer Olympics. While in merry old England you’ll undoubtedly come up against its interesting local dishes. Our guest author, Analise Marcus, is here to help you make sense of it all.

The English might not be known for their fancy food, but you don’t have to be fancy to be filling and tasty. Here is a whirlwind tour of some tasty English foods the flavors of which are more than equalled by their colorful names.

Bubble and Squeak

This was one of my all-time favorite dishes, a real down to earth fry-up that uses leftovers as the base for a great breakfast or lunch meal. I used to have it with tea for lunch at the Eagle and Child in Oxford; its name comes from the sounds it makes cooking in a hot pan. All the dish needs is leftover veggies and some potatoes. Mash everything together and fry it up in a shallow pan until it’s crispy. Serve with a runny egg and a giant slab of bacon to start your day with a full tummy.

Bangers and Mash 

Bangers are English sausages and mash is, as you can guess, mashed potatoes. Bangers are slightly larger than the typical American sausage; they are thicker and longer, making them the centerpiece of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. You can have a banger with a traditional English breakfast or “fry up” or over mashed potatoes in gravy for a very filling dinner. They get their name from the sausages made in England during WWII. Rationing meant that real meat was expensive, so average sausages were made with anything from cereal to water which often banged or even exploded while cooking.

Spotted Dick  

You laugh now, but this is actually an incredibly tasty treat so popular that Heinz even offers a canned variety. Spotted Dick is a type of English dessert, much like a pudding or custard, with currants or raisins mixed throughout. “Spotted” refers to the dried fruit in the mix, though different reasons have surfaced as to the “dick” part of the name. One theory has “dick” stemming from an abbreviated form of the word “pudding” and here’s how: pudding becomes puddink becomes puddik becomes dick.

Black Pudding  

This traditional breakfast side in England might be more easily identifiable if it were called by its alternative name: blood pudding. Yes, this breakfast sausage (a savory pudding, not like your neighborhood Jell-O) is made with dried animal blood mixed with a filler, usually suet or vegetables. And I’ll tell you this: it’s a lot tastier than some of the other pseudo-animal byproduct meat dishes that we get served up in the U.S. If you want an authentically English meal, try a black pudding

Cornish Pasty 

I must’ve eaten at least one pasty every week while I lived in England. They’re like fast food but not fried: they’re sold at little pasty shops (the one near my house was the West Cornwall Pasty Co.) and you can take it on the go. The small to medium ones can fit in your hand; the larger ones take a little more care since they’re pretty darn big.

Traditional pasties are filled with stew beef, potatoes and onions but there are all sorts of variety like breakfast pasties with egg to Thanksgiving pasties with turkey and cranberries. Cornish refers to the county of Cornwall which is strongly associated with the food; pasty is derived from pastry which is used to make the baked dough pocket for the food.

Rent a timeshare in England, and you’ll have a good excuse to become proficient in English – food, that is!

Analise Marcus is an avid anglophile and food lover. She recommends booking affordable airline travel with an Travelocity promo code so you have plenty of funds to research all the local culinary delights wherever you go.