taste cultural food tours: global explorer

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About 30km west of Sydney CBD is a suburb called Fairfield. A suburb that has opened its arms to people of 139 cultural backgrounds…. The most culturally diverse place in the world.

We know of the suburb, we know approximately where it is but we really have never explored it. So when Taste Food Tours advertised its Global Explorer in Fairfield, we signed up without hesitation.

The concept behind the food tours was to break down barriers between different cultural backgrounds and bridging the gap. And where do great social opportunities and happy memories normally happen? When there is food! It is a very innovative and fun way to bring people together.

It’s not physically possible to explore 6 countries in several continents in one day AND return home… but it is possible to explore flavours from that many countries in one day.

We drove to Fairfield with no idea what to expect; it was our first ever “food tour”… “food safari”… “walking food tour” (whatever one likes to refer to such a tour).

In a bit over 4 hours, together with 12 other food explorers, we tasted a bit of Bosnia, Italy, Argentina, Lebanon, Iraq and China.

We ate and we walked and we ate and we chatted and we ate and we shopped. Did we mention we ate?

First off the rank was trying Bosnian Cevapi – grilled mince meat in a shape of a frankfurt, served with some flatbread, sour cream, raw onions and a cabbage salad. The verdict…. DELICIOUS!IMG_0001Next was a visit to an Italian deli, where the shelves were stocked with an array of imported foods from Europe, all of which one day we hope to try. And at the counter, there were cold meats and cheeses to our hearts content. The owner prepared a little platter for us to try and the most memorable was the provolone cheese…. YUM!

IMG_0008An Argentinian cake shop was next on the cards and we were fed very well there. We tasted beef empanadas, dulce de leche croissants, quince croissants and 3-layered Argentinian sandwiches (the bread sliced at 3mm thick, buttered and mayo-ed with a various other fillings).

And what did we think? Dulce de leche says enough, don’t you think?IMG_0012 IMG_0015 IMG_0016 IMG_0020A Middle Eastern nuts shop which was brimming with sweets, nuts, dried fruits, and imported foods of all sorts is just the place for foodies. The varieties were endless. The owners here prepared a platter with a few dips, nuts and olives for us to taste.IMG_0024Onto a Lebanese butcher, followed by an Iraqi bakery and lastly a northern Chinese luncheon which was a feast! IMG_0028 IMG_0031We only snapped the dumplings because we were so overwhelmed with the amount and variety that kept coming out, we totally forgot to photograph the rest of the feast. But… in our defence, we needed to save some mystery for anyone else who might decide to do this tour one day.

At all the shops and restaurants we went, we met the owners, some with stories to tell while others were a little more reserved.

So it was NOT only about food, we learned a bit about the countries, cultures, family histories and how the different families started their businesses in Australia.

It was a lovely day trip. It was a great way to meet new people. It was a fantastic way to explore a suburb to gain the confidence to come back again.

As with trying anything new, go with an open mind and you are sure not to be disappointed!

We’d like to make a special mention to our guide, Nevzeta who was so friendly, warm and welcoming. She is full of enthusiasm and knowledge. It is easy to see she is passionate about what she does.IMG_0030For more information about Taste Food Tours and the tours offered, see their website.

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for this tour however there was no obligation or arrangement for us to write or promote Taste Food Tours. The opinions expressed throughout this piece is entirely that of Wise Monkeys Abroad.

Which food tour have you done (anywhere in the world) that you would recommend to us?

Leave your comments here.

YAY for ephesus

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We don’t normally capitalise our headings but for this one, we had to! To be inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage List is no easy feat.

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Following a vote on July 5, Ephesus was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List and so this called for us to cheer!!

A visit to Turkey is usually bound to include a visit to Ephesus. And for us, UNESCO collectors, it was no different except the fact that back in 2013, Ephesus was NOT on the list yet. This came as a great surprise to us back then as to how it could not already be.

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Every year, it brings in about 2 million visitors and seriously on the day we were there, we were sure half of that number was there. There were apparently three cruise liners in for the day at Kusadasi, which explained the crowd numbers. Maybe it’s always like that but for us, it felt like we were at a theme park.

The sun was up and there was little shade so apart from the crowd and the heat, we had nothing to “truly” complaint about.

We were wow-ed from the start when we could see the ruins of the pillars and amphitheatres.

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Then to walk the old stone streets, see the mosaic art, admire the different sculptures and structures all the while weaving past the wandering local cats.

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The most famous structure and probably the epitome of Ephesus is the Library of Celsus. We could see it from the distance and we couldn’t wait to stand below and gawk at it!

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And gawk at it we did…

Congratulations to Turkey for getting Ephesus recognised as a UNESCO Heritage Site :)

Ephesus was listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 2015.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, visit our unofficial bucket list

Leave us a comment here

guest post: what are the benefits of an escorted china tour?

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post contributed by Mediabuzzer. The views and opinions expressed in the post is that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Wise Monkeys Abroad.
Image by Josephine Lim via Flickr
Image by Josephine Lim via Flickr

The value of an organised, escorted tour through China is worth more than just peace of mind. It can translate into cost savings, making new friends for life, and perhaps one of the most important commodities we have: TIME.

There are too many benefits of a tailor-made China tour for us to list here and they are not difficult to articulate –let me assure you!

  1. Break the Language Barrier

China is a vast country with a variety of different language dialects which make up its diverse culture, and navigating them is no easy task if you are unfamiliar with them. Organising a custom escorted China tour will provide you with the sort of local backup one needs to manoeuvre on their journey.

  1. Get Your Papers Sorted

An escorted China tour company will assist you with obtaining the required paperwork you need to visit the country. Take a lot of the guesswork out of obtaining visas with the help of your tour company and spend more time doing what is important to you without the headaches that come with navigating visa requirements.

  1. Save Money

Organised tours will allow you to get bulk pricing on a number of destinations from hotels, resorts, attractions, and even food discounts at popular restaurants. Do not pay regular prices at places you travel to when you book your journey through a reputable tour company.

  1. Save Time

Escorted China tours 2016 will also help you book everything to your specification, from hotels to restaurants, just by answering their basic questions. A tour company will be able to string together your travel experience based on your preferences and open doors that you may not be able to open all on your own.

No waiting in long queues for tickets or meals. With an organised China tour operator, all of these tasks will be completed in advance of your journey so you can focus on enjoying yourself.

  1. Learn History

A popular China tour company will be able to hold your hand and walk you through every location you visit explaining all of the cultural nuances and historical significance as you go along. They are typically able to offer both entertaining and educational commentary every step of the way.

  1. Don’t Play the Fool 

With as diverse a culture as China’s, there are bound to be many ethnic and etiquette-related ways you might slip up if you are on your own however an accredited China tour facilitator will keep you in the loop as you go along.

  1. Avoid Tourist Traps 

Reputation is everything to a tour company and because they are always trying to attract more business due to the competition that comes with the job title, they’re going to treat you right by making sure that you are safe and that you do not get taken advantage of.

A tour company will ensure that you spend your money with other companies that are reputable and have your absolute best interests at heart, every single time.

the chateau series: chenonceau

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This is our final instalment for the series and we are featuring:

Chateau de Chenonceau

Possibly one of, if not, the most famous chateau in the region. We didn’t purposefully save it for last, it was in fact the last one we saw.

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Back in 2006, Chenonceau was the only one we were able to see so on our return trip, we wanted to make sure to see some others but also come back to the one that started it all for us.

So what is so special about it?

It is built over the River Cher – literally and had also had some rather famous inhabitants. And not to mention that it is rather a treat to explore.

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Easily the busiest one we visited as well.

Let’s revisit a bit of what we mentioned in the Chaumont post about this one.

Diane de Poitiers lived in Chenonceau. Catherine de Medici lived in Chaumont. Catherine de Medici traded houses with Diane de Poitiers.

Each of the ladies contributed to the architecture work that can be seen on the house today.

A quick tour of the place will see us taking you to …

* Diane de Portier’s bedroom – with the symbolic 4-poster bed and 2 large tapestries from the 16th Century. Oddly enough, her room is where the portrait of Catherine De Medici is housed, hung above the fireplace.

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* the Gallery – located in the bridge that you see in the above picture. The end of the gallery are two fireplaces on either side of the South door which opened to the left bank of River Cher.

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Wise Monkey Trivia – During the First World War, the chateau was set up as a hospital (by its owner), the gallery was an access point. During the Second World War, the River Cher was the “line of demarcation” as such, the gallery was used to pass large numbers of people into the free zone.

* the kitchens – built in the bases forming the first two piers built in the bed of the River Cher. Looking out the window, we see the “arch legs of the chateau” and the River Cher below.

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* Louis XIV’s Drawing Room – another ornate fireplace with the Salamander of Francois I (as previously shown in Chambord) and a Stoat for Queen Claude of France.

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* Catherine de Medici’s bedroom – with the finely carved 4-poster bed and furniture. The tapestries housed in this room are rare and fascinating. The borders of the tapestries are filled with animals symbolising proverbs and fables.

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And from the first floor, look out the windows! To the left, we see Catherine’s garden.

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To our right, we see Diane’s garden.

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Yet another unique and extravagant chateau with such jaw-dropping architecture.  As we often say, we would love to be a fly on the wall back in the day – simply so we could see how every day life was and to see the historical figures in action!

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That winds up our 8-part series of the Chateaux we saw in the Loire Valley; 8 of a vast amount in the region (not all of which are open to the public though).

Now that we have showcased the 8 in a bit more detail and you’ve glimpsed the inside….

Do you have a favourite chateau?

If you commented on the original post, have you changed your mind?

Feel free to leave us a comment.