Sunday Wine Down: Brennivin

SUNDAY WINE DOWN, BRENNIVINAs Ashley and I are slowly gearing up for our trip, I am starting to plan what food and drink I know I can’t miss on the road.  My mind is focused on the land of Ice and fire and all of the wonders of Iceland so for this new Sunday Wine Down (on Monday because we had too much fun on Sunday) I am going to focus on a singular drink that has caught my interest. So sit back, grab a glass of wine and maybe a plate of fermented shark because we are here to talk about a notorious drink with the ominous name of black death.

Brennivin is the actual name of this drink but it’s commonly referred to as black death. Now I have yet to try this mysterious unsweetened schnapps, so I will not be able to give a first hand account of the stuff. It is on top of my list to drink though when we finally land in Iceland. Brennivin translates in english as burning wine and all the rumors I have heard suggest that name suits this drink. Brennivin got the name Black Death during Iceland’s prohibition on alcohol; the bottles had skull and cross bones put on the bottle by the the Icelandic government so people began to refer to it as Black Death when ordering. Note: the Icelandic Prohibition lasted from 1915-1922 but it was far more lenient than the prohibition in the States.

Brennivin

The national drink is made from fermenting grains or potato mash and is typically bottled at 80 proof. The flavoring has strong herbal flavors and the common flavoring used are caraway seeds. There is a long tradition in Scandinavian countries to steep herbs in alcohol to create schnapps.

So how are we supposed to enjoy this unsweetened schnapps? The experts say that you drink it cold in a shot glass or a tumbler. So keeping a bottle of it in your freezer is a common practice. You can serve it over ice or drink it neat. Drinking the Black Death is an acquired taste I have read and most critics say it is not worth trying this strong flavor of the drink. What do you pair with a drink whose flavor scares people away with? Fermented shark, of course.  You read that correctly, rotting shark. The dish goes by the name of Hkarl and has just as big of a reputation in regards to its smell and unique flavor… It is a traditional dish that Anthony Bourdain quotes as the worst thing he ever tried. Nothing like a strong drink and some rotting shark to wake you up in the morning. Now if you are not like me and don’t want to try this paring feel free to pair Brennivin with lamb or strong fish.

I have not stopped talking about this national drink since we decided Iceland will be our first international destination on our trip around the world. I am a traditionalist at heart so why would I not want to try and learn to love this traditional drink of Iceland. I think I am more excited for the pairing of Black Death and fermented shark. Now I know Icelandic cuisine has moved away from this traditional pairing but hey, everybody has a past and what a fun thing to learn about.

I hope you enjoyed this latest Sunday wine down. If you have experienced Brennivin please comment below and share your story. I would love to hear it!

Changing the World

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”  – Margaret MeadCHANGING THE WORLD

Why travel?  Why pick such an uncertain way of living? Why do we want to be vagabonds and go against the social norm of being settled?  My feet keeping moving me forward and forever changing the paths I take in life. Over the last few months I have been pondering why I travel, what do I want to take from it and what I want to give to this world. With technology we have made the world a smaller place to live in, yet our understanding of each other has never seemed further away. We, unfortunately like generations before us, live in a time of turmoil and unrest. Our media has turned into a circus act and seems to only wants to give us cheap thrills rather than actual information we can use. They provide us violence, fear, and hatred twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. According to the media the world has become more dangerous and more corrupt than ever. The media does not want us to travel; they do not want us to visit and learn about the world. They want us to live in fear of the world; we should sit on our couches so they can force feed us negativity and leave us with the feeling of hopelessness about the world we live in.

Villa d'Este

I believe there has been no greater crime in mankind than the propaganda that keeps people hiding in their little boxes afraid of the big bad world. I am sorry, but it’s bullshit and I’m angry about it. To hell with the 24 hour news cycle, to hell with people who do nothing but bring fear and violence into our homes, to hell with them all! The world we live in is great, we should not be forced to fear an idea of impending doom but should be given the idea of hope and for all of us to dream and work for a better tomorrow. Yes, this world isn’t perfect and we can’t fix all it’s problems but that won’t stop us from trying.

This world is no more dangerous now than it was in the past; we just happen to be more aware of it. The world is a dangerous place; there will always be danger and we have to accept that. This danger however, should not stop us from seeing the world.  The amount of information we have access to can help us be aware of the places we are going. We can take preemptive action to help protect ourselves as we go out and travel. The world is too beautiful and too grand not to go out and explore. We should celebrate the world and the differences between us because that is what makes us beautiful and so fascinating.

The Russian River

So what am I going to do? First I am not going to allow the news to influence what I believe about this world.  Ashley and I are going to go out into this world and show people how important it is for us to travel. It is important for all of us to learn and come to understanding with other cultures.  I want to interact with people and learn about their culture and the way they live their life and I hope they will want to, in return, learn about my way of life and culture. I want to give the world hope; I want to fight back against this blanket of negativity that has been brought upon this world. We need to be outside with our hands raised in joyous celebration for being so blessed to live in a world that is so diverse. I want to explore and understand all this diversity. I do not believe that it is enough to connect through just media, it is more important to go out to visit and talk to people in person.  Get up and interact with a new culture in person, make a personal connection.

Travel and the people who travel can change this world for the better.  Instead of spreading hatred and fear, us travelers can spread peace and understanding. We can show people that diversity should not be the cause of conflict but should be the cause celebration.

Endless Arches at Ta Prohm

Every time I step foot into a new place I’m overwhelmed with questions for every person I meet. During our 6 year trip I want to learn and understand the world and then share the stories of other people. I believe most travelers have this same drive.  As travelers we belong to our own culture and I believe it is this culture that it is important to saving this world. What we acquire as we travel are stories of the world and these stories come with a responsibility when you are a travel blogger.  Our responsibility is to nurture these stories and spread them around like a wildfire and bring understanding and acceptance to this world.  Exploration is in our nature as humans; throughout history there were always souls that lust for travel and adventure.  We are the next generation of travelers for the history books and it is our job to bring understanding and that is why we are traveling the world. The need to learn is what drives us and we are willing to go to the end of the world. This world is beautiful and it deserves to be explored and to have stories passed face to face not just through the web.

I can proudly stand up a say that the world is not doomed and I believe that mankind has not come close to show how wonderful our earth and its people can be.  As bloggers, it is our jobs to go out and fight for this world and our right to walk among new cultures without fear but with the yearning for knowledge. We can change this world and we have the power to go out and show people the world is not a bad place but a place that should be loved. This is our world and I’m not ready to give up on us just yet. So go and learn and fight for understanding and peace. Go out and talk to people and show people that there is still good in this world. I sure know that is what I am going to be doing.

Alex and I at the Orange Garden

This may sound crazy but over the next six years this is what we want to prove; the world and its people are good and not only that but they are also welcoming, helpful and curious.  We want to travel the world, meet new people and learn about their culture. No one culture is the same but in the end we believe that everyone wants to live a happy and fulfilled life.  Our six year round the world trip is to share how wonderful the world is.  No one should live in fear because this world is wonderful and has so much to offer.  

Craving Iceland

Photo courtesy of http://www.freefoto.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.freefoto.com

We’re going to Iceland!!!!!!!!! On May 20th we’re hoping on a plane and heading to the northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik. Ash and I thought we should start our around the world trip with a country that neither of us have been to and what a country and a city to start with! I grew up camping, hiking and just enjoying nature and Iceland’s wilderness has inspired generations of people to explore and write about the world. As lovers of travel and writing, how could we miss such a country that reinvigorates one’s soul?

We will be renting a car for seven days and road tripping around this beautiful landscape. We want to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Hike volcanoes, camp in the forest, eat hot dogs on the side of the road, and relax in geothermal spas. I personally cannot wait to eat and gorge myself with the hardy food of this land. A huge part of their diet is game and fish and has kept the people fueled to battle the harsh elements.  Preservation techniques like pickling in fermented whey or brine and drying or smoking has allowed the Icelanders to survive over time. The traditional methods have died out over the generations but I know I can still find and enjoy the flavors of fermented fish or meat. The smells and taste are funky but hey, that is part of the fun. I also know lamb is a huge part of their diet and I love lamb. I am sure this will be mostly what I consume.

It is a little difficult to explain why we crave Iceland. A couple episodes of Anthony Bourdain is what sparked our initial interest and then a few searches on google is what really got us hooked. The breathtaking landscape is hard to pass up and if I had to choose the reason we are craving Iceland that landscape has to be it.  Ash and I are determine to experience things that we normally would not and go out there and push our boundaries as people, travelers, photographers and writers. Who knows, we might even make some friends along the way.

We are craving Iceland. We think this northern territory is the perfect jumping off point to push us even further in our upcoming adventures!

 

Have you been to Iceland?  What was your favorite part of this crazy beautiful country?

 

Top Destinations of 2015!

Our Top Destinations for 2015

So now that we have had our GRAND REVEAL aka announced that we will be going on a 6 YEAR ROUND THE WORLD TRIP (can you tell I’m excited?) I thought we would introduce the destinations we are most excited about seeing this year.  While we still have a few more months to enjoy Wine Country living, we are already making lists of places we want to see and all the things we want to do.  This means I get to nerd out, read a bunch of guidebooks and embrace my love of lists and spreadsheets.  I am obviously the planner and cannot wait to start planning this trip.  So here are the top five destinations I am most excited about visiting this year!

 

Iceland

Courtesy of Huffington Post
Courtesy of Huffington Post

Let’s start with Iceland because well, its FREAKING ICELAND.  I cannot convey how utterly excited we are to visit Iceland.  I mean I guess I could by writing in all caps but we all know how obnoxious that can be.  Iceland has always been this mystical place and I thought I had to have buckets of money to visit it but all that is changing.  Yes, it is still a relatively expensive place to visit but there are ways around it.  Beers & Beans has some great advice for how to travel Iceland on the cheap and we are definitely taking it to heart.  Don’t want to blow our whole budget on our first international stop after all 🙂

We lucked out and were able to get cheap flights to Iceland from New York and we are going to be spending 12 days there.  We are hoping to snorkel Silfra (the continental plates), visit the Golden Circle and spend at least 5 days road tripping around the country.  I am also excited for the obscene amount of hot dogs I will be eating as Alex eats all the weird food like fermented shark….

 

Scotland

NBC tells me I am not the only Outlander fan obsessed with Scotland.  Photo courtesy of them...
NBC tells me I am not the only Outlander fan obsessed with Scotland. Photo courtesy of them…

After Iceland we are heading to Scotland!  We are so excited for Scotland, the land of haggis and Scotch!  But most importantly we are super excited to meet up with our friends who we haven’t seen since we moved from Rome!  We plan on spending a significant amount of time in Ayr bugging our friends and then of course we will be traveling around the country.  We don’t have any firm plans at the moment but the Outlander fan in me is looking forward to seeing Inverness, the Highlands and Edinburgh.  Scotland has some of the most beautiful landscapes as well so expect a deluge of photos!

 

New Orleans

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia 

New Orleans is a place I always talked about visiting in college for Mardi Gras and now that we are going I am actually glad we are not going during the chaos of Mardi Gras.  This city has been speaking to us.  Coffee, beignets, blues and booze; what more could we ask for?  We just want to wander the streets and do whatever takes our fancy.  I also know that Alex will be stuffing his face with crawfish.

 

Spain

Delicious Spanish Jamon

Both Alex and I have been to Spain before and while we thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Valencia for Las Fallas, we would love to explore the culture of Spain more.  We are planning on renting an apartment in Barcelona for at least 2 weeks if not longer so we can really get into the Spanish lifestyle.  We also want to travel all over Spain.  I have been to Madrid and the Costa del Sol but Alex has not so I really want to show him the different parts of the country.  I know Alex for sure wants to surf in San Sebastian and I am totally open to learning.  There is so much we want to see and do in Spain we may just have to stay for several months!  Plus we love tapas!

 

Morocco

Alex loves snakes
Alex loves snakes

I am finally making it to Africa! Yes Alex has already been to Morocco and Ghana but we don’t count him.  We are still trying to figure out visas but most likely we will be popping in and out of Europe and the plan right now is to spend Christmas in Morocco.  I have never spent a Christmas away from my family so I am guessing I will probably be homesick.  So the solution is to be somewhere as different from home as possible.  I also am a lover of Casablanca so I could not give up a chance to explore this famous city.  We have detailed out any plans yet for Morocco but it will definitely be happening in 2015.  I am thinking tea, shisha, markets, tagines, and exploring the blue city of Chefchaouen.
So these are the top five destinations we are most excited about!  Although to be honest we are pretty excited about everything right now.  We are in the “freaking out about the fact that we are leaving for six years” phase right now.

 Have you been to any of these destinations?  Do you have any suggestions or tips?  Also as we get closer and our itinerary shapes up  we would love to meet up with you!  The whole point of this journey is to share the world with people!

Around the World

HOLY SHIT Around the World We Go

Fellow Adventures,

These last few months have been kind of hectic for Ashley and I. We are in the process of building and finishing our new website as well as trying to take “In Pursuit of Adventure”  to the next tier. For us to be able to accomplish this, we need to do something drastic with our life. To further ourselves and our blog about travel, travel needs to be a constant in our life. So that is exactly what we’re going to do; we’re packing up, selling our things, quitting our jobs, and heading around the world starting April 22nd. You read that right, Ash and I are taking the big plunge into the unknown and going out in this world that we have fallen in love with. We have sat still for too long and we are overdue to get back out there on the road.

This is not a trip that we are planning on doing in a year. We want to take our time as we go around the world. We want to give the places that we are going the respect due to them by staying long enough to appreciate the culture that we are exploring. That is why we are going to take a minimum of six years to circumvent the world.

 

So where do we start?

Well we have to get out of dodge first.

ROAD TRIP! USA

We will pack the car and head down the coast see some family until we reach LA and then head East across the states with the final destination of New York by May 19th. A couple of must stops along the way are New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, DC, and a few other cities and national parks like the Grand Canyon sprinkled in before we hit New York. Then we hop on a plane and head to Iceland for about two weeks. From there we will be visiting the rest of Europe for around two years. After seeing as much of Europe and some of North Africa (Hello Christmas in Morocco!) in two years we will be hopping on board the Trans Siberian railroad into Asia, and will be spending a significant amount of time exploring Asia from north to south. We will then take a pause and head down under for a year, hopefully being based in Melbourne for a bit, and then back up to India, Africa, South America and back up towards LA.

What do we plan to accomplish? How are we doing this? Why are we even doing this?

Starting with the last question first, we are traveling around the world because we have to. It is really that simple; we do not have a choice, we have to travel. Travel is our addiction and if you ever met Ash and I you would realize that we are happier on the road. We are believers that travel can change the world and is the key for us to learn and understand each other. People talk about movements that happen over time and I believe that travel is the next big cultural movement for America. Why learn about a culture online when you can go and live and engulf yourself in a new culture?  We want to show people that this world is not a treacherous place but a place that is beautiful and welcoming and worth going out and exploring.

One of the many Buddhas at the Grand Palace

 

What do we plan to accomplish? I think our main focus is to give every culture justice when we visit and write about it. We want to give the culture the proper time and go in with a open mind. Our job as travelers is to share our stories and their stories to the rest of the world.  And of course, our biggest goals is to see as much of the world as we can.

How are we going to do all of this? Well just like the Nike motto we are going to just do it. Ash and I have saved up as much as we can and we are going to just take the risk, because in reality we have nothing to lose.

Join us and follow along with our adventures.  #IPoARTW
Join us and follow along with our adventures. #IPoARTW

We hope you follow our journey around the world and even join us. We have an open invitation for anybody who wants to meet up with us on the road. Let us go and spread the stories of the world and maybe just maybe we can can all come a little closer to understanding one another and change the world for the better.

Cheers!

-Ashley and Alex