Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Croatian Food

Sampling the fine Croatian food was one of the highlights of my visit. The cuisine is absolutely delicious. Because of their long coastline, seafood is prominent. But, meats and cheeses are also plentiful. Fresh figs and pomegranates, ruby red ripe tomatoes, basil. I really liked this black risotto dish made with squid ink. And...I cannot say more about how divine their olives and olive oil are. If it weren't for the airline restrictions on liquids, I would have packed my carry-on full of the stuff!

Here are some of my favorites, along with some pictures to get you salivating:

prosciutto, cheese, tomatoes, olives

shrimp with olive oil and garlic

Palacinke (pronounced "pala chink eh"): pancakes filled with chocolate and walnuts


Would you like to try your hand at some Croatian cooking? Check out this site for some free recipes!


Eat up, and adventure on!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Croatia - Top 5 Essentials

Here are my top recommendations for Croatia:

* Walk the walls of the old town of Dubrovnik, getting an eagle-eye's view of the inner city, the outer islands, and the open sea

Walking the walls on a rare rainy day.

* Stop for a break at the "Hole in the Wall" where, once you literally walk through a small hole in the fortress wall, you'll find a pleasant spot to enjoy a beer and view the sailboats, nearby islands, and cliff jumpers

Look...a hole in the wall!

And the view from the other side.

* Buy fresh lavender, figs, olive oil, or handmade lace from any of the many stands selling local goods

Garlands of fresh figs and homemade brandies.

* Visit the Sponza Palace Historic Archives for a history of the city of Dubrovnik, and view photos of all the men and young boys who lost their lives while defending their hometown

* Try some of the local wines (Croatia is well-known for their wines)

* Take a dip in the cool Adriatic sea

Take a dip! Clothing optional.

* Walk the Placa-Stradun (main street) at night, from Big Onofrio's fountain at one end, to the Bell Tower at the other, stopping along the way for a slice of pizza and people-watching

Walking the centuries old stradun (main street).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Greetings from Hrvatska!

WHERE, you might ask? It's what we call Croatia. Officially known as the Republic of Croatia, it was once a part of the former Yugoslavia after WW2, declared its independence in 1991, and is currently a candidate for membership in the European Union.

Capitol: Zagreb
Official Language: Croatian
Population: 4.43 million

The majority of the population are Croats. National minorities include Serbs, Muslims, Slovenes, Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and others. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic. In addition there are Orthodox, Muslims, and Christians of other denominations.

Croatia sits on a fault line that lies between Western and Eastern Europe. Because of its location, it has Venetian, Latin, Hapsburg, Hungarian, and Slavic influences. It is home to Roman ruins, cobblestone fishing villages, medieval walled cities, forested national parks with amazing waterfalls, and over 1,185 islands (more than Greece).

View of the azure Adriatic Sea.

Join me as I explore this amazing country.

Adventure On,

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bosnia & Hercegovina - Top 5 Essentials

Here are my top recommendations for Bosnia & Hercegovina:

* Enjoy some rahat lokum (Bosnian sweets, much like Turkish Delight)

* Check out Islamic culture and the Turkish souvenir shops while strolling along the old cobblestone streets of Mostar

Looking for the perfect hookah?

* Drink some Turkish coffee (Move over lattes, this stuff is strong as sh*t!)

* Eat some Bosnian meats, grilled and served up with hot ajvar, a delicious relish made from peppers and eggplant. Milk and meat are Bosnia’s principal agricultural outputs.

Tasty Bosnian grill. Mmmmmmmmmm..eat!

* Drive through the countryside, and marvel at its mountainous backdrop and blue-green rivers

The Neretva River cuts through the countryside around Mostar.

* Watch crazy people jump off a bridge! A local tradition that continues today is to jump off the Old Mostar Bridge. Even after the bridge had been bombed in the 1990s, contestants jumped off of what remained. Brings new meaning to the saying "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"Apparently, in Bosnia & Hercegovina, the answer is YES!

Adventurous I am...but not enough to jump off a bridge!


Friday, November 2, 2007

Greetings from Bosnia & Hercegovina!


How did I get here, you might ask? Well, quite literally, it was a crazy journey from Seattle to Chicago, to Galway (Ireland), to Dubrovnik (Croatia), to Serbia & Montenegro, and finally here. Trust me when I say my return journey was just as long!

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting stories from all of the above-mentioned places, but thought I'd start here.

Not many people I know (Americans in particular) have been to Bosnia & Hercegovina. The images we receive from our national media do not portray such a nice place. I would like to share with you what myself, and my sisters who travelled with me, experienced on our trip.

First of all, yes...there are visible signs of recent warfare. Bullet-strewn buildings and blown up bridges are still in a state of disrepair. On the market streets you can buy an interesting array of war-time paraphernalia. However, the country has done much to re-build and grow, and it truly is a beautiful place.

Scars from bullets during the war of the 1990s.

The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was formed after the break-up of the former socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and following the wars that took place from 1992 to 1995 among Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs. The country was devastated by three years of violent inter-ethnic fighting.

With aid from the international community, major reconstruction has taken place since the advent of peace in 1995, and despite the problems it continues to face, Bosnia is generally considered a post-conflict success story.

In 2005, The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Mostar’s Bridge Over the Neretva:
A Muslim and Croat symbol of reconciliation

We should all take the time to learn about, and learn from, the history of this fascinating place. And most of all, to not forget.

Piece of shrapnel on a simple memorial.

Adventure on, with an educated mind and respect,


Monday, October 22, 2007

Sweet Home...Chicago!

"The Bean" is cool.

This year I had the fortune to stop and spend time in Chicago en route to my most recent travels. Chicago is my home town, and where most of my family still reside. In addition to watching a Cubs game, a must do for anyone who visits during their season, (a season that ends shortly after the playoffs begins, unfortunately), there are a million adventures to be had in the city.

One of the most recent additions to the downtown area is the Millennium Park. As our infamous Mayor so succinctly describes it:

"Millennium Park honors and builds on several proud Chicago traditions at once - beautiful architecture, landscaped and protected parklands, and the ongoing celebration of the arts." - Mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley

One of the favorites of the park is what Chicagoans refer to as "The Bean". It is a coffee bean-shaped silver sculpture that reflects the city from 360 degrees. It is fun to watch kids run up and look at their reflection in the mirror. Here's one of me (arms outstretched) with a view of the north part of the city behind me.

"Me & The Bean".

Another amazing feature is a state-of-the-art music pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, which is the first of its kind in the country designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor concert hall.

The state-of-the-art music pavilion designed by Frank Gehry.

So, all in all, Chicago is a great place to visit, even if it's just for a quick stopover. And, while you're there, don't forget to eat some Garrett's popcorn and get yourself a deep dish pie.

Oops...my ride is here. Gotta go!

An escort by Chicago's finest.

Adventure On!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Good Karma, and Go Cubs!

You heard it here first, kids. The Chicago Cubs are going all the way this year! No more Bartman, no more curses, no more excuses. Let's go, Cubbies!

Spoken like a true Cubs fan...I am ever hopeful. Plus, if it doesn't work out, there's always next year. Or next century. My grandparents (aged 92) have been waiting a lot longer than me to see our team win its first World Series.

Even so...seats at Wrigley Field are hard to come by. It is always with much pleasure (whether a winning season or no) that people stream into one of this country's greatest stadiums. I had the good fortune to run into an ex-boyfriend from days of old who just happened to have received extra tickets to that night's game. I chalk it up to good karma. A bridge unburned was my ticket in! Plus, it's not too difficult to sit next to Chicago's finest Firefighters while watching your home team bring in a WIN!

Of course, no game is complete without a Chicago-style hot dog...complete with Old Style beer. A classic Chi-town meal.

To Lou Pinella and the boys...best of luck!


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sailing the San Juans

Morning view in the San Juans.

Learning to sail has been quite an awesome experience for me. Living in Seattle, being so close to the Puget Sound and all it has to offer, how could I not take to the water?

This Labor Day I was fortunate enough to spend four days onboard my friend Cap'n John's boat. We sailed through the San Juan Islands of Washington, and the Canadian Gulf Islands. Although just a few hours away from Seattle, we were worlds away!

Sunset view from South Pender Island, Canada.

The peace of the water, the hilly islands, some with dry terrain, others with lush forests, the wind whipping through the sails...it was like living in a post card.

I caught my first big fish, and "Norm" (as we named him) provided our meals for the next few days. I broke down crying after catching him, once I realized that we'd have to club the poor fella and filet him. (Hey, I'm a city girl from Chicago! I don't normally indulge in such behavior!) He was quite delicious, though. Thank you, Norm!

The One That Didn’t Get Away! Salmon Slayer Gill

I highly recommend a sailing adventure throughout this beautiful area. There are also ferries that go back and forth to the mainland. For more information, check out:


Sail on!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Viking Ship Lands in Ireland

Viking Ship

photo credit: Reuters

(Dublin, Ireland) A 65-member team that set sail from Roskilde, Denmark on July 1st, arrived yesterday in Dublin. The team journeyed over 1,000 nautical miles using only oar and sail power. Christened the Havhingsten af Glendalough (The Sea Stallion of Glendalough), this reconstructed viking ship is the largest in the world, say its builders, who built it using the wood of 300 oak trees.

The Sea Stallion's return voyage was 1,000 years in the making. Originally built in Dublin in 1042, it sank 30 years later in the Roskilde fjord, south of Copenhagen. It was not excavated until 1964, and was finally completed in 2004. The aim of this journey was to address questions related to Viking ship-building and travel.

Researchers will examine film and computer data gathered during the voyage, and the vessel will be on display at Dublin's National Museum until next year, when another crew will make the return voyage home.

Now that's what I call an adventure!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Buying a Bikini in Brazil

Bathing suits in Brazil come in two sizes: small and smaller. I spent a LOT of time looking for the former.

In the place that invented the “Brazilian” wax, a bikini is a staple.

My bathing suit from Seattle just was not going to cut it. But, where to start? Having heard the Brazilian bikinis described as either “fio dental” ( “dental floss”) or “asa delta” (“the hang glider”), I was a bit nervous. A credit card and some courage, and I was off!

One of my favorite shops was BumBum (www.bumbum.com), which is named after a slang word for “butt”, and can be found at several locations near Ipanema and Copacobana beaches, and I also really like the styles at a lovely boutique called Vanina Nemer (http://www.vaninanemer.com.br/). Has anyone else ever heard of a Trikini before?

But…(no pun intended) you don’t have to go into a shop to buy a bathing suit. They sell them just about everywhere: crocheted bikinis on the beach, cardboard boxes full of Lycra on street corners, and even at the Sunday markets.

You’ll see people of all different shapes and sizes wearing them not just at the beach, but while walking along the streets, riding bikes, shopping, and even to the restaurants.

The guys are wearing speedos. Sometimes they’ll wear them under board shorts, but they shed the shorts as soon as they hit the sand. Get used to it!

So, my best advice is to make up with confidence what your bathing suit lacks in material, and strut your stuff!

Photo: Trying on bits and pieces at the hippie fair.

Adventure On!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The New 7 Wonders of the World

On July 7, 2007 (07.07.07) the New 7 Wonders of the World were announced, after the first ever global election. Here is the list:

  1. The Great Wall, China

  2. Petra, Jordan

  3. Christ Redeemer, Brazil

  4. Machu Picchu, Peru

  5. Chichén Itzá, Mexico

  6. The Roman Colosseum, Italy

  7. The Taj Mahal, India

Personally, I have been to two (Christ Redeemer, Brazil and The Roman Colosseum, Italy), but you can be sure the others are on my list!

By the way, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder remaining of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

It's a wonderful world we live in. Now get out there and experience it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Moment to Mourn

(Sao Paulo, Brasil) Having just recently been through Sao Paulo's airport 3 times, and also having been affected by the numerous air traffic controller strikes and cancelled flights while in Brasil, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the lives lost in the terrible plane crash that happened there yesterday.

The President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, declared three days of national mourning for Brasil’s second major air disaster in less than a year.

More information can be found here:



Friday, July 13, 2007

Come to Jesus!

(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) When one thinks of Rio, one automatically thinks of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor), the statue of Jesus that stands atop Corcovado mountain, overlooking the city. In a city of extremes, it is the ultimate irony: blessings upon a city proud of its reputation for lasciviousness.

"The Christ" is located 2,300 vertical feet above the city, in the Parque Nacional de Tijuca, which is an urban rain forest. Another extreme: only in Rio can you go from the concrete jungle to the tropical jungle within a few minutes.

It has just been announced that Christ the Redeemer is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, which was voted on by more than 1 million voters.

So, after you are finished with all of your partying in the city, come on up to Jesus. He will redeem you! Trust me. Millions (as in almost 12 million) of Rio's inhabitants do.

Jesus turning his back on me.

Amen, and Adventure On!


Sunday, July 1, 2007

When it Rains in Rio

Between me getting my Brazilian visa only one day before departure and my travel companion Hana “Lil’ Crooked Legs” Krivonozkova (a literal translation of her Czech sir name) being majorly delayed by a security breach at LAX, we barely made our flight from NYC to Brazil. We are off to a rocky start. We arrive, after 15 hours of flight time, and get on a local bus. Within 10 minutes it breaks down. Right next to the most violent favella (slum) in the city. Nobody on the bus seems to mind or care about the half an hour wait for our bus replacement. Welcome to Rio! Did I mention that it starts pouring down buckets of rain? We slop all of our stuff to the hostel, and finally, after 24 hours of vigilance, get to put our bags down. Phew!

Two idioms come to mind: “When it Rains it Pours”, and “When in Rome (Do as the Romans Do)”. So, what to do when it rains in Rio? Make like a local, and party till the wee hours! And then sleep in until about 2pm or so.

We did manage to make it to Sugarloaf Mountain, one of Rio’s finest attractions, before sunset one day. The lousy weather persisted, but made for some very dramatic photos. A couple of hours later, and night is back. Time to repeat the ritual.

Ritual for When it Rains in Rio:

-Sleep in till afternoon.
-Get up and do something in the few hours of daylight remaining.
-Take a siesta.
-Get ready for a 10pm dinner.
-Hit the local clubs around midnight.
-Arrive home at an unmentionable hour.
-Repeat until sun shines. (At which point you will be advised to wake as early as possible and head to the nearest beach.)

Adventure On!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Brazil Visa

I am sitting here sweating while waiting for my Brazillian visa to arrive, since I’m supposed to leave on Monday for Rio de Janeiro. If I don’t get my visa tomorrow, they will not allow me to board my flight. This is a problem!

So, as I sit here waiting for my FedEx Saturday rush delivery, I come across the following news:
“A Brazilian congressional committee on Thursday approved a bill that aims to boost tourism by eliminating visa requirements for visitors from the United States and four other wealthy countries.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

To read the full article, please go here.

Man, I wish they had approved this bill earlier!
The sweating continues…

In the hope that I can Adventure On,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Syttende Mai

Syttende Mai is Norway’s Constitution Day, and has similar significance to the USA’s 4th of July. It celebrates the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814. In Oslo, the children parade past the Royal Palace carrying flags.

The National Day is celebrated throughout the world in many Norwegian communities, including my hometown of Seattle. The area of Seattle called Ballard has a significant Norwegian population, and every year they close down the main street for the Syttende Mai parade. There you can see adults and children wearing the traditional Bunads, a traditional costume that represents the region where you are from (sort of like the Celtic kilts). There will be a joyous celebration with many flags, Norsk food and drink, and music and dance.

For a listing of today’s events in Ballard, check out http://www.syttendemaiseattle.com/event.shtml.

Eat some lutefisk, and Adventure On!
KristenAdd a comment

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Pirate of the Carribean

(Roatan Island, Honduras) Pirates have been raiding Roatan Island since the early 1600s. The first to invade were the Spanish. Then the British. This time, it's a Czech. Jiøí Máška is a modern-day pirate if ever I met one. He is conquering the island with a brewery.

A well-respected artist (http://www.maskaart.com/) whose art was not consistent with Communist thought in his home country, Máška left Czech in the early 1990s in order to develop his art. He went first to the United States to continue his art studies, then travelled all over the world. He eventually made his way down to Roatan.

Sample of Moska's artwork.

In each of these places, he thought the beer was terrible. While many people might have had this same thought, he decided he needed to do something about it. Roatan Brewery (http://www.roatanbrewery.com/) is now up and running with two lovely beers, Bay Islands Pilsner and Bay Islands Ale. I can vouch that they are both delicious.

The brewery itself is a replica of a 15th century Spanish fortress. Máška has built it himself in less than 2 years, high on a hill in the east end of the island. Windmills and solar panels provide the power for the brewery. In order to produce these natural beers that follow a 600 year old recipe, he imports everything, from the equipment to the hops, yeast and malt, from Europe. The entire brewing cycle takes about a month to complete. If you stop by, Máška will give you a tour of the place and regale you with stories, only after he provides you with a freshly poured beer.

Getting a taste of the homebrew (nice antique motorcycle!)

All his beer drinking has inspired some pretty lofty ideas. Máška has, among other serious adventures, crashed a 4-seater airplane and survived. Later he sank a boat he brought over from Czech in the deep waters off the north coast of Honduras, and was adrift for 16 hours. With no flotation device. Eventually he was picked up by local fishermen.

These events have only fueled the passion for his latest endeavour. What next? A pirate ship, of course! The Black Pearl project (http://www.1blackpearl.com/) is creating an exact replica of the pride of Henry Morgan's fleet. Henry Morgan was one of the most famous pirates of the Carribean, who built the original Black Pearl off the coast of Honduras in 1667. Máška is not only building this ship using the same materials used back then, but is also building it in the same place it was originally built. Details include 6 bronze functional cannons, handmade canvases and ropes, a handmade metal-tipped anchor, and also the sheathing impregnated by hot blood from oxen. The ship is designed for tourism, and will be ready for its maiden voyage in summer of 2007.

What's on the horizon for Captain Máška is beyond anyone's imagination. Perhaps the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria? Ahoy, mateys!

Adventure on,


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Life of Gill

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Opening Day!

Day 1 of my blogging life. I set this up mostly to display photos and keep in touch with friends/family. Hope you guys enjoy this site! ~Gill