Episode 22 – The Canadian Mountains with Alicia

Come explore the beautiful mountainous terrain of Squamish, British Columbia with our guest Alicia! She shares her experiences and recommendations about the exhilarating mountain town and how to navigate the vast array of outdoor activities to indulge in!

  • To access this episode please access it on my web host, Buzzsprout
  • To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play

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Alicia grew up on the west coast of BC in Vancouver, Canada. Living in Vancouver and surrounded by a bunch of fit and adventurous people, she became obsessed with mountains, and the adventures they inspire.

Following her dream to live in a mountain town, Alicia followed her passion and moved to the ocean-meets-mountain town of Squamish, BC in 2016. The town, crammed between Vancouver and Whistler, is famous for a giant granite mountain that makes it look like a Canadian, coastal Yosemite. A good example of a “typical Squamish weekend” is like the one Alicia hosted when Melissa visited in June 2018:

Friday evening: Hike nearly 3,000 feet to the top of a local mountain to have craft beer, and fries, overlooking the ocean and snowcapped mountains. Save the legs, take the gondola down.

Saturday: Find yourself terrified but exhilarated as, surprise! You’re rock climbing vertical granite walls, right beside an epic mountain called The Chief. There’s probably a festival happening downtown but you’re in your own world of adrenaline.

 

Sunday: Canoe across a wild river to access a provincial park, and hike another 3,000 feet, following beside a giant waterfall, to a hidden mountain lake. Feel excited at the end of the day as someone in the group sees two giant bears playing right near your canoe. Pay a local to boat you back across the river so you don’t have to figure out the treacherous crossing with the canoe. Cap it all off by consuming giant bowls of amazing Indian food.

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You can follow Alicia on her blog at https://notrunningforgold.com/ or on Instagram, @funtimes.woodside.

To access Episode 22, please access it on my web host, Buzzsprout

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try iTunes or Google Play

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Thank you!

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Episode 19 – Mongolia with Ariunaa

This week’s episode comes straight from the wide open grasslands of Mongolia, where Ariunaa takes us on a journey through her homeland. From experiencing the warmth of Mongolian hospitality to exploring the regional cuisine, you’ll be inspired to pack your bags for the land of endless green plains, nomadic herders, and two-humped camels. Please enjoy!

Ariunaa_Anderson Photo

Group photo

To access Episode 19, please access it at our web host, Buzzsprout.

To subscribe for emails and updates, please fill out this form.

Mongolia

Mongolia is the least populated country in the world. Known for its vast open grasslands and the Gobi desert, the country is home to 3 million people. Nearly half of the country’s population carry on a 3-thousand year old lifestyle as nomadic herders.

The capital city of Ulaanbaatar hustles and bustles, not unlike many other Asian cities in this part of the world. However, the desire to see Ulaanbaatar is hardly the real reason that brings seasoned travelers to Mongolia. The countryside and the nomadic culture are what attract adventure seekers to Mongolia.

Where to Visit

Central Mongolia (aka the Khangai Region) — Endless green plains, rolling hills, pristine forests, wildlife that is unique to only this part of the world, and Karakorum, ruins of the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire.

 

Northern Mongolia — The world’s second largest freshwater lake named Khuvsgul Lake and the surrounding natural beauty, the Tsaatan people (nomadic reindeer herders)

 

Southern Mongolia (aka the Gobi Region)– The gobi desert, vast steppes that go as far as your eyes can see, beautiful sand dunes, two-humped Mongolian camels

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Western Mongolia — The snow-capped peaks of Altai mountains, Kazakh eagle hunters

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Eat & Drink

Khorkhog – authentic Mongolian barbeque, prepared by pressure cooking meat and vegetables inside an airtight container using hot stones

Khuushuur – deep fried dumplings with meat filling

Aaruul – type of dairy product made from dried milk curd

Mongolian vodka – vodka distilled from yogurt

Airag – fermented horse milk

Experience

Stay in a ger

 

Go horseback riding

Horse riding

Go camel riding

Camel riding

Visit a nomadic herder family

Nomadic herders

Stay in nature

See the Naadam festival

Festival pic

Shop

Ethically made clothes, accessories and blankets from natural textiles obtained from nomadic animal husbandry:

Cashmere

Camel wool

Yak wool

Further reading (as mentioned in the podcast)

The Mongolia Obsession, Tim Wu

Episode 17 – Germany with Nadja

Germany (Bavaria!) with Nadja:

Finding your speed limit

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Not to disappoint, but despite the title my story is not going to be a catalog of different speed limit requirements for the German Autobahn (wait…what speed limit?). Instead, what I am going to talk about is how you can explore Germany at your own pace and in your own style – in other words how to explore Germany at your own speed limit.

My name is Nadja. It’s not a very Bavarian name, and sometimes hard to pronounce correctly for people in San Francisco (it’s ‘Nadia’, not ‘Nad Jha’), which is where I have been living and working since 2015.

Before I left Germany (Bavari!)*, almost 7 years ago, the radius of my whereabouts rarely left the 70km (43m) around Munich, which is exactly the distance to my home village called Kochel am See. 70km is also the same distance from the small 4000 inhabitants village to the Austrian border. So we are talking about the very South of Germany where the Alps start, and where finding a good internet connection is patchy.  

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This is where we start, slowly, at a pace of 10m/h…

Kochel am See is located right at lake Kochelsee (as its name says, as See=lake) and close to lake Walchensee, one of the deepest and largest Alpine lakes in Germany. The area offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as e.g. hiking, mountaineering, windsurfing, biking, fishing, rafting, or ice climbing to only name a few.   

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There is plenty to do and to see for the non-sports-enthusiasts as well, e.g. paying a visit to the Franz Marc Museum (exhibiting local expressionistic art), feeling like a king by listening to a classic concert at Herrenchiemsee castle on an island in a lake, or just relaxing in the thermal bath overlooking lake Kochelsee.

Local specialities directly from a farm or produced in-house are very typical, and not always as unhealthy as people claim German cuisine to be.

My tip: Find a nice spot close to a lake or on top of a hill and indulge yourself w/ a Brotzeit (=a light meal) and cold beer, watching the sunset over the mountains and lake.

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The selection of these several Bavarian locales as examples of slow paced living are of course very subjective, because I am one of those proud Bavarians* myself. Indeed, there are plenty of other  relaxing places across Germany worth seeing as well, e.g. the beautiful North Sea Coast, or the idyllic island Sylt.

 

Increasing speed to 40m/h…

Now let’s take things up a notch and look at Oktoberfest. The first association people often have with Bavaria is the Oktoberfest, drawing millions of people every year to Munich in September (fun fact: The Oktoberfest only extends a few days into October; most of the event is actually in September).

Personally, I think there are better, smaller events on the countryside, like the Tegernseer Waldfest, but these events are highly dependent on the time of year and the specific town you’re visiting. So if you don’t want to go up to the speed of Oktoberfest immediately, but you still crave a bit more traditional action or music, then ask a local for recommendations on smaller events to visit.

On the other hand, if your mind is absolutely set on Oktoberfest, and you plan to go w/ a bigger group of people, make sure you book a table around March/April to ensure you can snag one of the highly coveted beer tents.

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Personal impressions from Oktoberfest, incl. the traditional gingerbread hearts you can buy, and my favorite sweet treat Kaiserschmarrn

Even without the thrills of Oktoberfest, Munich definitely offers a faster pace of life, but also provides ample opportunities to take a break, breathe, and just be. The Englischer Garten park in the center of the city offers plenty of space to enjoy the summer sun, sit in a nice beer garden, or even surf on the river Isar (not kidding). The nightlife in Munich is decent, and even offers some good EDM or live music. Take a disco nap and head to the clubs at midnight (there is rarely a crowd before then).  

Tip: If you have limited time, but want to see what the city is like, walk up the stairs to Peterskirche; it costs you less than $5 but rewards you with a great view of the whole city.

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Changing to the fast lane…

If you are looking for high-speed I would definitely also recommend bigger cities such as Hamburg or the capital Berlin, with its endless supply of entertainment possibilities. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn is world famous for its entertainment value as a harbour city (just be aware in which street you walk in, as it also doubles as Europe’s second most famous red light district), and you can make the day a night (or several days one night) in Berlin.

These cities aren’t purely party cities either; there is a lot of history to learn from (e.g. Checkpoint Charlie), culture to see and listen to (e.g. musicals in Hamburg, the Berlin Philharmonic), and lovely recreational areas to walk around in (e.g. Hamburg’s Alster).   

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\When to go to Germany – Summer or Winter?

My biased self would say go twice and experience the country during both seasons (ideally all four seasons!). But if you have to choose, and aren’t the biggest winter sports fan, I would say that summer and autumn offer you more opportunities to get in touch with locals and enjoy the broad variety of events and activities – although you may miss out on some damn good Glühwein (aka mulled wine)!

 

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*When asking Bavarians if they are from Germany, you will likely always end up hearing the critical addition of ‘Bavaria’ in their response; deeply proud, self-evidently confident, and almost surprised why you didn’t ask for Bavaria right away.

 

Where to eat in and around Kochel am See (pescetarian friendly) – Maps

Lunch/Dinner Cake/Brunch/Snacks
  • La Pineta (family Friends, great Italian cuisine)

 

Where to eat in and around Munich (pescetarian friendly, reservation recommended) – Maps

Lunch/Dinner Cake/Brunch/Snacks
  • Call Soul (Distill their own gin, have really good modern local dishes and cocktails)
  • Faun (Bavarian cuisine)
  • Spicery (really good Thai food and cocktails in Munich)
  • Go to Viktualienmarkt and just snack at the stands

 

Where to go out in Munich (personal preferences)

 

Bars Clubs
  • The High (Hip hop beats, same owner as Zephyr Bar)
  • Blitz Club (EDM and apparently one of the best sound systems)
  • Lola Bar (Living room feeling, not really for dancing though)
  • Bob Beaman (also EDM, you see my personal preference)

Under no circumstances go to P1 or Heart Club in Munich if you are a decent human being and don’t need a fake sense of ‘prestige’.

What to do around Kochel and Munich

Outdoors Indoors
  • Mountaineering to

– Herzogstand (has a cable car up and down as well)

– Jochberg (view of 2 lakes)

– Zugspitze (has a cable car, $$$ though)

  • A concert at Herrenchiemsee castle (program), needs a car
  • A boat tour on

–  Kochelsee, also offers small rentals

Staffelsee

  • Partnach Gorge – super exciting, don’t do when rain, needs a car
  • Look/ask for local outside events when booking a stay!

 

Where to stay in and around Kochel am See

At my parent’s B&B or at my sister’s hostel 😉

 

Contact: bissinger.nadja@gmail.com

Link to Picture Folder

Episode 16 – Rwanda with Steven

Rwanda is a beautiful country in Africa with a controversial past, but through this history it’s blossomed into an incredible place to visit if you’re looking for either a relaxing or adventure trip that’s off the beaten path.

Please tune in as we explore this country with Steven, a peace corp volunteer who was stationed in Rwanda for two years. You can check out his blog about his adventures here.

Listen to the podcast here:

  • To access via desktop, please access it on my web host, Buzzsprout
  • To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play

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Episode 15 – Shanghai with Shiyin

  • To access Episode 15 please access it on my web host, Buzzsprout
  • To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play

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Shiyin’s recommendations in Shanghai:
Must-eat Foods
Soup dumplings at Jia Jia Tang Bao
Fried soup dumplings at Yangs Dumpling (many locations)
Braised pork belly (Hong Shao Rou) at Jing Cai Xuan (inside the Reel mall)
Mapo Tofu at Oriental House (inside the Kerry Center mall)
Pork bao (Rou Bao) or veggie bao (Cai Bao) at Babi Mantou (they’re everywhere, just walk around)
Hot Pot at Hai Di Lao (multiple locations)
Sights and Activities
The Bund – very crowded riverside walk full of colonial age buildings and ultra-modern Shanghai development, touristy but worth seeing
Yu Garden, City God Temple, and 16 Pu (Shi Liu Pu) – very walkable area to see old and new Shanghai, tons of tiny shops and food stalls
French Concession – the expat part of town, great for brunch, coffee, and nightlife. The area directly north of the Shanghai Library is pretty.
M50 – contemporary gallery district featuring scultures and Chinese and international art
Going Out
Speak Low – excellent cocktails and fun speakeasy entrance
Unico – Shanghai is not a great music city but this venue usually has solid music and dancing
Chair Club (555 Haifang Lu) – good jazz club; be sure to use the address here since searches in English can produce the wrong address
Great City Views
VUE Bar – the only 360 riverside view in Shanghai; make a reservation and it comes with one drink
Kartel Wine Bar

 

 

Episode 13 – Italy with Giovanni

 

A TRIP TO THE UNEXPLORED GEMS OF ITALY

THE ROMAGNA REGION

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My name is Giovanni Labadessa I’m an Italian living in Los Angeles since 2005. I’m a writer, a passionate foodie. Despite being born in the South of Italy the place I choose to talk about is an area in Italy that made me fall in love again with my country: the Romagna region and a city that I love very much: Santarcangelo di Romagna.

The Romagna region is situated by the Adriatic Sea and can be a great place to stop by in your way from Florence and Venice.

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This area has both the mountains and sea offering its visitors breathtaking views, in addition to beauty for both the eyes and spirit, with a mixture of the earthy colors, the aromas and the fresh sea air. Not to mention that the Romagna is a hotbed for music, cinema and art appreciated nationally and internationally.

Traditional of the Romagna region are Passatelli, Piadina, Pasta Fresca like Tagliatelle, Cappelletti, Ravioli, Nidi Di Rondine, Strozzapreti.

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My favorite of the many great beautiful towns in this region is Santarcangelo di Romagna which is a beautiful italian post card.

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This small medieval village is recognised internationally as a City of Art and an extremely popular destination, thanks to the extravagant art and talents of its more celebrated citizens, the warmth of the Romagnolo welcome, the good food and conviviality but also because of the town’s fairs and festivals, which invariably attract thousands of visitors.

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The most famous among the many cultural events that happen though out the year is the International Theatre Festival – Festival del Teatro in Piazza.

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The festival is a major international exhibition of avant-garde theatre, which has welcomed, amongst others, the famous Mutoid Waste Company, an international group of performers and sculptors of recycled materials, which today live in a small quarter of the town by the river renamed Mutonia. This city passion for the arts has attracted several artists from all over the world making this city one of the most innovative cultural hub in Europe. The city is also home to the international film festival Nót Film Fest , several food fairs and literary events.

The old town of Santarcangelo is worth a visit by itself, all walkable with its narrow streets that climb up on top of the hill called “Monte Giove” where you can enjoy both a beautiful view over the city and the poems written on the corners of the houses.

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One of the peculiarity of the old Town are the “Grotte Tufacee”, enchanting caves dug out of tufa: these mysterious caves, whose origin is still unknown, form a labyrinth underneath the towns historic center.

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Santarcangelo is also home to several celebrated taste makers, amazing restaurant and Osterie.

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Besides Santarcangelo the Romagna Region is rich of gorgeous cities like the city of Federico Fellini Rimini, the historic Republic of San Marino, the medieval castes of San Leo, and Ravenna with its Byzantine mosaics.

Rimini

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San Marino

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San Leo

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Ravenna

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Where to EAT in SANTARCANGELO

L’Ottavino Osteria

Via Pio Massani 16 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Pasticceria Succi

Via Felici 38 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Ristorante Ferramenta

Piazza Ganganelli, 19/20 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Ristorante Zaghini

Piazza Gramsci 14 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Rosticceria Graziella

Via Molari 13/15 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Osteria Ristorante La Sangiovesa

Piazza Beato Simone Balacchi, 14 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Trattoria del Passatore

Via Cavour 1 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

 

Where to STAY in SANTARCANGELO

BB Agriturismo Locanda Antiche Macine

Via Provinciale Sogliano, 1540 – SANTARCANGELO

La Foresteria del Convento

Via dei Signori, 2 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Hotel Della Porta

Via Andrea Costa 85 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Hotel Il Villino

Via C.Ruggeri 48 – Santarcangelo di romagna

Residenza i Platani

Via Contrada dei Fabbri 8 (Centro storico) – Santarcangelo di Romagna

B&B Le Contrade

Via Dei Nobili, 38 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Tenuta Zavaia

Via San Vito 434 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Villa Greta

via Giulio Faini, 9 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

 

 

Episode 12 – Russia with Anya

Anya is from Russia and here to share her stories and recommendations around the country!

  • To access Episode 12 please access it on my web host, Buzzsprout
  • To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play

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Anya’s recommendations:

In Moscow
Cultural Stuff:
– Red Square is a must
– museums inside Kremlin especially State Regalia one
– Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow – my fav of all time, a lot of provocative visual art
– Tretyakov Gallery for classic fine art
Restaurants:
– White Rabbit – there is an episode of a Netflix show about it, authentic Russian cuisine
– Turandot – prepare to be wow’d by everything, royal dining experience
– Zhivago – USSR themed, really authentic
Other:
– Book a Airbnb walking tour experience to see the best of Moscow. Russians love to stroll, so streets are beautiful and pedestrian friendly. There are a lot of parks and squares with cafes and benches to relax and enjoy the view.

St Petersburg
– Hermitage
– Peterhof (takes at least a full day)
– boat tour of canals is an absolute must
– roof of Saint Isaac’s cathedral for the best view (in photos below)
– any rooftop restaurant
– St Petersburg is a gorgeous city full of history. Just walking around is great. There are bunch of historical palaces and churches. Food is great everywhere.
– Highly recommend doing it only in summer time though. It’s extremely cold in winter and a lot of beautiful sites and Peterhof are closed.

Other cool cities to consider:
– Sochi
– Nizhny Novgorod
– Kazan
– Samara
– If you have a little extra time, there is a really fascinating river cruise around what’s called Russian Golden Ring. Over a few days a cruise ship goes through small and big historical towns around European part of Russia.