Latvia

what would you order from our three-course taste of travel menu?

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We were nominated/tagged by two fellow blogger pals, A New Life Wandering and Mrs Ayla’s Adventures for #atasteoftravel blogger competition. Although we are not eligible to win the prize and we are not entering this post into the competition, we thought it would still be fun to get involved in creating a three-course menu from the foods we have tried on our travels.

But we are choosing to put a “spin” on the menu – instead of one entree, main or dessert, we have decided to make it like a set menu: a choice of one of:

  • three entrees
  • three mains
  • three desserts

Simply because we could decide on JUST one for each 🙂 – Apologies in advance that there are no vegetarian options.

So here goes the Wise Monkeys Abroad 3-course Travel Menu.

ENTREE

OPTION 1:

White Rose Dumplings from Hoi An, Vietnam

A steamed dumpling filled with shrimp bunched to look like a rose.

It is served with toasted garlic and sweet dipping sauce.

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OPTION 2:

Sashimi Platter from Hakone, Japan 

A selection of uncooked seafood includes tuna, prawn, squid, octopus, yellow tail .

Served with wasabi and shaved radish.

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OPTION 3:

Cheese Fondue from Lucerne, Switzerland

An infusion of gruyère and emmental cheese in dry white whine.

Served in a casserole on top of a spirit lamp and a basket of bread.

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MAIN:

OPTION 1:

Beef Stroganoff from St Petersburg, Russia

Sauteed beef in a mushroom, sour cream based sauce.

Served with a side of mash potatoes.

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OPTION 2:

Seafood Paella from Leon, Spain

Aromatic rice cooked with seafood, chicken and vegetables over an open fire.

Served in the pan it is cooked in.

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OPTION 3:

Pork Knuckle from Riga, Latvia 

Slow-cooked pork knuckle.

Served with beans, fresh tomato salad and potato wedges.

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DESSERT:

OPTION 1:

Chocolate Soup from Edinburgh, Scotland

A hot chocolate served in a bowl, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

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OPTION 2:

Creme Brûlée from Carcassonne, France

Vanilla custard based layered underneath a hard caramel top.

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OPTION 3:

Pistachio Baklava from Istanbul, Turkey

Chopped pistachios wrapped in filo pastry and held together with a sweet syrup.

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What are you ordering?

Let us know in the comments.

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the legend of the rose of turaida

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When we travel, we are always fascinated by the different tales, folklores and legends from different countries and places we visit.

Have you heard about the legend of the Rose of Turaida?

If you ever visit Turaida Castle in Latvia, you will be sure to pass by and see the grave of Maija – the Rose of Turaida.

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The legend goes a little like this:

In early 17th Century (1601), the Swedish troops captured Turaida Castle. There was a young orphan girl discovered by the clerk of the castle, who adopted her as his own daughter and named her Maija.

Maija grew up to be beautiful young woman and the people named her the Rose of Turaida. She was engaged to a gardener by the name of Victor, who lived at Sigulda Castle. In the evenings, they would secretly meet each other at Gutmanis Cave.

A man named Adam who worked at Turaida Castle was interested in Maija and proposed to her. She rejected his proposal and Adam decided to win her over by deceit. He wrote a note to Maija inviting her to meet at Gutmanis Cave, as if the note were from Victor.

Maija turned up to the cave wearing a red silk scarf and realised she had been tricked, and chose to die rather than be unfaithful to her fiancé, Victor. She told Adam that the scarf would protect her neck from any sword and that he should attempt to cut her neck. Adam tried and Maija’s lifeless body fell down at his feet.

It was Victor that discovered his love murdered. In despair, he raced off to find help but in the meantime had dropped his axe. Suspicion arose and he was arrested and tried for her murder. It was only after a comrade-in-arms to Adam testified of the truth, which resulted in Victor being freed. Maija is now buried at the edge of Turaida graveyard, where Victor planted a linden tree on her grave.

What a tragic love story!

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Where have you been that has a similar historical tale behind it?

Share with us your thoughts.

And remember, if you want to how we are getting on during our Camino, we are posting daily videos on our Facebook Page.

bremen town musicians in riga

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In the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale: “Town Musicians of Bremen“, the 4 animals (donkey, dog, cat and rooster) are standing on each other’s backs peering into a house of robbers feasting.

The statue, gifted to Riga by their sister city Bremen, has a political satirical connotation.

Wise Monkey Trivia: The 4 animals are standing on each other’s back but are looking through the “Iron Curtain”. 

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As always, we welcome any comments or thoughts here

our first month in review

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We have been away exactly a month now and we have enjoyed every moment and experience! We have seen some mind-blowing, spectacular and confronting things. And we have learnt soooo much more about European history from the countries that we have visited.

Here is our first month in a quick review:

Our first stop was Russia where we visited Moscow and St Petersburg. There we saw some amazingly opulent palaces and got a sneak peak into the lives of the past royals. Our standout moment from here would be setting eyes on St Basil’s in Red Square for the first time.

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The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were next on the agenda. We learnt about the Singing Revolution which we had no idea about and also learnt about the Baltic Way – 2 million people holding hands across the 3 countries to make a 600 km human chain to stand up for their independence. A few of our favourites in this area would be visiting the Hill of Crosses and experiencing the old towns of each capital city

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Poland was definitely a little surprise package for us. We enjoyed what the country had to offer; its history, food, people and culture. Here we experienced awe as well as sadness. There were moments of joy and wonderment as we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines, walked around the Old Town of Krakow and be impressed at the restoration efforts of Warsaw. Then there were moments of heart-break where we shed tears for those who lost their lives during World War II especially when we visited the concentrations camps.

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We had a small taste of Czech Republic back in 2006 when we visited Prague for a few days. This time, we had an opportunity to visit Cesky Krumlov as well. One of our highlights in Cesky Krumlov was definitely getting a tour of the Zámecké Divadlo (Castle Theatre). One of the last few remaining wooden theatres still with costumes, props and stage sets. Prague was nothing like we remembered, probably because we came this time with “older” eyes and a different mindset to travel. A highlight would have to be seeing the Astronomical Clock again and really appreciating it for what it was this time.

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Now we are in Bordeaux, France and we are loving France all over again. Despite common belief, the French people are very friendly and always willing to help. Two memorable experiences amongst the many so far (as we still have all up another 10 days or so) was watching Moulin Rouge and seeing Mont St Michel. Next stop Carcassonne 🙂

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Have a great week ahead, folks!

Feel free to leave us a comment here