Tag Archives: travel tips

Prague – The Food

I’m still going through vacation photos; sorting them out and reliving our trip. As I am, I realized it only seems fair to post a few photos of some of the food we tried in Prague. I mean, Istanbul got a food post. And The Netherlands got a good bit of attention with Claudia’s herring and my beloved oliebollen. So, in the interest of all things fair and right and foodie, here are a few of the food snaps I managed to take before stuffing my face. Note to self: I really need to work on that whole ‘pause, show some restraint, photograph, then eat’ system.

The first thing you need to know about food in Prague is that it tastes better when you eat it in a quaint neighborhood beer garden like this one.

You can't beat the food or fun offered at a neighborhood beer garden

And it’s even better if your neighborhood beer garden is rowdy and festive and brightly painted, and has great beer and live music.

Who could possibly resist this place? Or polka music?

Not much of a beer drinker? How about a cup of piping hot honey wine, then?

Honey Wine vendor at Old Town Square

I’ll warn you – it tastes a little like a hot, oaky chardonnay but with a healthy dose of paint stripper and Nyquil. And not the good cherry Nyquil, either. Gird your loins, kids. This stuff packs a punch. It was warming and sweet at the first sip. It was punching me in the gut and trying to steal my wallet by the last. Frankly, they could have sold a lot more of it if they’d just served it up in one of these beauties. That little bit of marketing genius is free, honey wine man.

I'm guessing everything tastes better in hand cut Czech glass. Pinkies up!

You know what else is really attractive (to me, anyway)? Big honkin’ hams smoking on an open fire pit. I can’t look at this stuff without wondering where the big pan of biscuits is hiding. Yes, I’m southern. Why do you ask, darlin’?

This is Old Prague Ham and That is the Old Prague Ham Master

I could go into the history of Old Prague Ham, but frankly I don’t care how it got here. I just want it really bad and I can’t stay focused on anything other than its smoky goodness long enough to put any more effort into it. Here’s what you need to know – it’s gorgeous and it smells like smoky meat heaven. Period.

Don't you wish you had smell-o-vision right now?

But wait! There’s more! The OPH man also sells sausages with rye bread and spicy mustard. AND kraut with little Czech dumplings and chunks of smoked ham in it. And Nestea, evidently.

Oh yeah, baby. We're about to get our Eastern European on!

The sausage was tasty and the bread was lovely and that kraut was a work of art, but let’s talk about the ham for a minute. Stay with me.

I would eat this on a boat. I would eat this on a float. I would eat this in a car...

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Dang! That’s a lot of smoky ham!” And you’d be right. Which brings me to my one and only tourist rip-off cautionary tale from our trip. The sign above the Old Prague Ham quotes a price. A very reasonable price. What you won’t notice (because I swear it didn’t say it anywhere) is that the quoted price is for a certain size portion of ham and that OPH is sold by weight. So unless you step up and say, “I’ll take the 80 Czech crown portion” (which translates to roughly $4.00 US), they will give you a giant plate of ham and tell you it’s 200 crowns (here, I’ll do the math – that’s $10.00 US). Now, ten dollars isn’t going to break anyone’s piggy bank, but what it will do is feed everyone standing within 10 feet of you. And that’s 10 feet of space in Old Town Square where all the tourists mingle in close proximity. I ate ham. The Complete Package tried the ham. The four Asian tourists sharing our tiny cocktail table were invited to try ham, but giggled at the absurdity of the size of my ham plate and politely declined. So instead, it fed two young homeless men who were scrounging through a garbage bin rescuing bread that others had tossed aside, and it also fed their little dog. Little dog got that crusty piece of ham skin, and he totally rocked it. Which leads me to my last two bits of advice about Old Prague Ham.

1. Too much Old Prague Ham may lead to massive stomach cramping and over-consumption of anti-diahrreal medications. It may also cause you to curse the day you ever laid eyes on 200 crowns worth of OPH, and say things to yourself like, “I’m sorry, Istanbul. I packed that Immodium assuming that I’d be sharing it with you. But I was wrong. So wrong. Please forgive me.”

2. If the wish I threw into that wishing well comes true and I do, indeed, return to Prague some day, I’m having what TCP had.

Because that's the way *uh huh uh huh* we like it

And now for something sweet. While at Prague Castle, a smell danced past my nostrils that was so intoxicating, I found myself drifting toward it much like those old cartoons where the besotted floats above the ground being pulled in a trance-like state towards something irresistible.

One whiff, and you'll want to hand over your wallet & credit cards

In this case, it was trdlo. I know. It’s an odd name. But what it lacks in vowels, it more than makes up for in aroma and flavor. Imagine the smell of warm cinnamon sugared toast. Picture the texture of soft warm white bread hot out of the oven. Now imagine the combination of those two things – a warm, soft cylinder of piping hot bread, enrobed in a crunchy cinnamon sugar hug.

Trdlo stands draw crowds of visitors, all following their noses

Here’s how it works. Bread dough is rolled into a thin rope and wrapped around a metal cylinder. A board is sprinkled with sugar crystals and cinnamon, and the cylinder is rolled through it, as though rolling out a pie crust or pizza dough. Rolling helps to flatten the dough onto the cylinder and helps the sugar/cinnamon mixture stick to the dough. The cylinders are then placed one at a time onto a special rack over a hot fire.

This stuff is heavenly, which makes those holy rollers

As each trdlo is taken off on one end, another new one is added at the other end. By the time each cylinder makes it across the fire, it is perfectly golden and ready to eat. Each roll is broken in half, forming two beautiful golden cuffs of deliciousness. If they weren’t so darned irresistible, I’d wear them like bangles on both wrists. So not kidding.

Another sweet treat was our stroll through the small but interesting History of Chocolate Museum. It’s tiny and kind of kitschy, but also fun. Your reward for paying the entrance fee is the live chocolate making demonstration, where a candy shop employee shows you the steps to making hazelnut creme filled chocolate stars.

The live chocolate making demonstration in progress

Oh, the magnificent aroma of that chocolate room. It’s so strong and so heavenly, it seems to permeate every cell of your body for at least 20 minutes. If I could bottle it as perfume, I could buy a summer castle in Prague. It was glorious. If you’re into tasting over smelling, the pay-off comes at the end of the demonstration when you get to sample the goods.

Twinkle twinkle little star, cuter than a Hershey Bar

And while I’ve always made it a practice not to publish photos of myself or TCP, he did manage to snap a shot of me coming out of the tasting room. It’s not flattering by any means, but what are you gonna do? Sometimes the truth hurts.

Oh, snap! I was sure NanaBread was a brunette!

Prague is primarily known for it’s pork dishes and dumplings, but there were a few culinary surprises. Take this appetizer, for example.

Fried Sardines & a cold Pilsner - TCP was one happy cat!

I don’t heart stinky fish, but The Complete Package does and he was tickled to pieces with this plate of sardines, fried up crispy and dipped in mayonnaise. And for the record, that’s not lumpy American mayo from a jar. That’s the good stuff. The homemade version. And if you ever eat it (especially on fries while in Europe), you will never look back. I think TCP could have sat in this little Italian cafe and eaten sardines all day long. The beer didn’t hurt, either.

And then there was this steaming platter of Spaghetti Carbonara. It was lovely, but it tasted even better than it looked.

Proof that everything is better with bacon

This was TCP’s lunch. I was hoping he’d filled up on stinky fish, but no such luck. Evidently he was just getting started. But I did get one bite, and it was tasty. Don’t feel bad for me, folks. Mama didn’t raise no fool. I did my research and knew October was at the peak of the wild mushroom harvest season. So guess what I ordered?

Read it and weep - Wild Mushroom Risotto

Oh, yeah. It was creamy. It was earthy. And it was fabulous. Which reinforces what I’ve said all along. When you travel, give yourself a gift you’ll always cherish. Try local foods. Immerse yourself in local customs. Try to live, as much as possible, as a local instead of a tourist and you will create memories that will last a lifetime. And, truth be told, that works just as well when traveling to other states as it does abroad.

If you missed the Prague post, you can click here for a shortcut.

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Travel Tip: Hit the Street Markets

One of my favorite things about travel is exploring street markets. No matter where we go, you can bet I’ll be looking for a good market. If you’re a regular reader, you know we hit the German Christmas markets HARD in November.


I’m no expert, but I think Paris has the most beautiful shopping stalls. So lovely.


The Complete Package is a big fan of the Petaling markets in Kuala Lumpur. He likes to spend quality time browsing there when he travels to KL for business.

I loved the markets on Amsterdam’s canals and squares. Oh, the glorious cheese!

And I have very fond memories of a farmer’s market in McMinnville, Oregon and the dry-roasted hazelnuts, huckleberry syrup and artisan cheese I bought directly from the hard-working farmers who produced them. Let’s not forget the Pike Street Market in Seattle. Give me a grande Starbucks vanilla latte and a tub of Beecher’s cheese curds, and I’m a very happy camper. I really love Seattle.

But one market we BOTH loved was Camden Lock northwest of London. If I had to choose a favorite street market right now, this would be it. Hands down. It’s indoors and outdoors. It’s old and new. It’s also fun, funky, and wildly popular.

There really is a lock at Camden Lock. It regulates boats along the Regent’s Canal as is runs through the heart of Camden Town. The markets can be found along several streets, along the canal, and in the old Camden Stables. The heart of Camden Town has been home to one type of market or another since horses pulled boats to the Thames in the 1800’s. Old meets new here in an exciting way.

While you browse, don’t forget to take advantage of the food stalls. We followed our noses to a small stand where morning orange juice is squeezed to order while you wait. Then we followed our stomachs to this little Chinese food vendor for lunch. And a few days later, we followed them back to eat there again.

Camden is also known for its dynamic music scene and numerous pubs. If an English pub crawl is on your “to do” list, you may want to consider jumping the Tube for the short ride from London. Think of it as your public designated driver. While you’re there, keep an eye out for Amy Winehouse. She is known to frequent the pubs of her hometown. Who’s surprised? Anybody? No? {crickets} Here’s a photo of my favorite resident of Camden Town. Little tough guy.

The thing I loved most about the Camden Lock market is the atmosphere. It’s so far removed from the sedate, conservative lives we live at home. It’s not just fun, it’s funky. And it’s not just outrageous, it’s totally over the top. Camden is exciting, and gritty, and exotic, and fascinating. If variety is the spice of life, the markets of Camden are a multi-sensory feast. And this is one party you’ll want to attend over and over again (if you’re of age & behave responsibly, of course).

I'm pretty sure Sexy Goth are two words that will never be used to describe me.

I'm confused. Are they selling scorpions or shoes? It's Camden, so it's probably both.

I'm not going in there, but that facade is definitely a work of art.

There are so many markets I haven’t seen yet – the grand bazaar in Istanbul, the wet markets of Bangkok, the historic downtown market in Philadelphia. There are far too many to list. It’s a big, wide world out there, and I intend to see as much of it as I can before I ring the bell at the Pearly Gates, if I get that lucky. So, please share your suggestions. Where do you go when you “hit the streets”? I’d love to add your favorites to my list!

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Travel Tip: See the Bison at Yellowstone

I love to travel, and this is one for your bucket list. One of those “things to see before you die” adventures. Everyone should go to Yellowstone National Park at least once in their lifetime. And while you’re there, say hello to one of their most impressive residents, the American Bison. They are magnificent. And the beautiful thing about seeing them in Yellowstone is that you not only see them in a completely natural habitat, you see them up close. I mean really up close. Once in a lifetime up close. And when you do, you’ll fall head-over-heels in love with bison. Furry, mangy coats and all. These beasts are awe-inspiring.






See that gray bar in the bottom left corner? That’s the frame of our car window. This guy was in the middle of the road and close enough to touch. We would never do that (without wetting our pants), but that’s how close he was. Oh, and for the city slickers – never fear! You can still enjoy encounter traffic issues. Sometimes it’s due to the number of tourists in the park, but sometimes it’s due to a more specific type of traffic issue – a bison jam. And no, I’m not kidding.


And as if that wasn’t enough, those park rangers go ahead and throw in some spectacular scenery. Just for your viewing pleasure. They’re friendly like that.




NanaBread’s Yellowstone travel tips:
1. To beat the crowds, go in mid-May. As a bonus, it’s “baby” season in Yellowstone, and you’ll get to see all the new additions to the park.
2. We preferred the north and south entrances, but it doesn’t really matter how you get there. The important thing is to get there.
3. When you go, try to stay for at least a week and plan to spend each day driving a different section of this enormous national treasure. You should see it all.
4. For stunning mountains, stay near the south entrance and Jackson, Wyoming. For incredible vistas and bountiful wildlife, stay near the north or northeast entrance to the park. For shopping, museums and tourist attractions, stay near the west entrance of the park.
5. Pack your camera, your zoom lenses, and a spotting scope (if you have one) every time you venture out into the park.
6. Pack a picnic and a cooler of drinks each day; you never know when the perfect spot for a picnic may arise and it can be hours before you get to the next store or restaurant. That goes for gas stations, too.
7. Take advantage of the ranger talks, visitor centers, and locals for information on weather, animal sightings, photography gems, etc. Information is invaluable in a place this large.
8. Pack layers of clothing and rain gear; temperatures can drop and rise with elevation and storms. Always be prepared.
9. Invest in a good book or fold-out guide on the animals and plants you may encounter in the park; it helps enhance your experience, especially when traveling with children.
10. Take your time. Relax. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery and the clean air, and take a million photos. Once you’re gone, you’ll miss this magical place, and you’ll want to remember it forever.

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