In January 2013, I took a one week trip to Thailand with my family. My father got married in northern Thailand in a small city called Sakon Nakhon. We got to see a little bit of the town, try Vietnamese cuisine, get Thai massages, and participate in a traditional Thai wedding. Here are a few photos from Sakon Nakhon.
This was my second trip to Thailand. This time around Bangkok seemed to have more scammers, especially cab drivers willing to rip tourists off. We opted to walk a lot and even take the Sky Train. A couple nights in Bangkok was enough for me, but we did manage to get lots of shopping in, see Wat Pho (Buddhist temple with the largest reclining Buddha), get more massages, and Steve and Duane even tried the fish spa! Check out our photos from Bangkok…
I was recently home in Lake Travis for a week and got to dine at one of the best restaurants in the area Hudson’s On the Bend. This long time favorite country fine dining restaurant is a great choice for any special occasion. We celebrated my bestie’s birthday Raven that night and got to sample some delicious dishes.
Sesame Almond Crab Cake on Roasted Corn & Ricotta Goat Cheese Tower w/ Avocado in a Guajillo Sauce ($19)
The food here is really unique and is a combination of French and Southern cusines. They have items like venison, quail, elk, and duck on the menu along with classic cuts of beef and salmon. Hudson’s loves to use seasonal and local fresh ingredients too. When we were there they had pumpkin bread for the holidays and even a Beef Wellington dish.
Herb Horseradish Crusted Salmon w/ Black Truffle Gnocchi, Baby Spinach in a Fresh Mushroom Broth ($39)
The portions of food here are not typical tiny fine dining portions, but are large and generous. The cuts of meat here are no joke and any meat lover leave with a meat hangover. The lighter fare we tried here was equally delicious. My salmon pictured above was perfectly cooked and my mom had a duck and scallop dish that was divine.
Hudson’s is definitely on the pricier side and reserved for special occasions and holidays. Don’t let the laid back country atmosphere fool you because the food here is stellar and every bite is worth the hefty price tag.
One of the many reasons why I love Austin is because of the weather. In the winter time the weather never gets too cold for too long. On a recent trip home, the weather was a high of 80 for two days straight in mid December!
My mom and I decided to take advantage of the great weather and rent a paddle board on Lady Bird Lake near downtown Austin.
I went online and looked at our options and found Austin Paddle Sports who operate out of Capital Cruises right in front of the Hyatt near Auditorium Shores.
The website said first come first serve for rentals at $15/hour per board, so we decided to just stop by and check it out. The lake that day looked a little windy, and we didn’t see any paddle boarders out. We came across a non-chalant young man running the Capital Cruises area, who ended up talking us out of renting SUPs. We decided on a two man kayak for $15/hour instead. We didn’t want to risk the windy blowing us around, and I was very reluctant to take a plunge in the murky lake despite the warm weather.
Mom and I had a pleasant and relaxing hour kayak around the lake. There were tons of dogs swimming nearby and birds cruising around in the water to watch. There were only a couple other kayakers on the water. It even got warm enough for me to show off my Honey Girl bathing suit!
While Steve and I were visiting the Fowler family for Thanksgiving in Marin County we got to take a beautiful scenic hike called Ring Mountain. The main trailhead is off of Paradise Drive and parking is off the side of … Continue reading →
This is a video is of Piazza della Signoria in Florence at night. Turn up the audio to here to tranquil music that a local musician was playing free for the square visitors.
I hope I didn’t bore my readers with my 500 posts on Italia. Spending one month in Italy I could really do more posts, but I am glad to share the highlights of our life changing trip.
Italy was full of surprises, more breath taking scenery than one can imagine, rich history and culture, and enormous plates of pasta. Every city was an unexpected adventure for Steven and I. Surprisingly, one solid month we got along wonderfully and even managed not to fight after spending 24/7 together in close quarters. I feel very lucky to have found my partner in travel and life. This certainly won’t be our last trip to Italy. I can’t wait to go back!
Here are few obnoxious generalizations about Italy that I found both lovely and shocking…
Italy is extremely diverse with city life, mountains, coastal towns, and country side.
Most Italians reminded me of most Koreans (I’m half Korean). They are initially rude, loud, proud, and if they like you they’ll drink with you! Most Italians exude this amazing self confidence and walk with their heads so high and talk with so much personality.
Italy’s wine country is like Napa on steriods. I drank some of the best wine I ever had in my life here and it was their house wine. (I also drank wine every single day!)
I was surprised to see that most people in Italy smoke, drink a ton, don’t wear sunscreen, and don’t do regular exercise. They might not be the healthiest people, but they seem to be some of the happiest I’ve seen and really enjoy their lives.
High quality. This sums up their FOOD, wine, buildings, furniture, designer goods, pretty much everything. ”Made in Italy” means high quality. They really don’t make anything half ass there.
On September 5, 2012, one of the last days of our trip, happened to be one of my favorite days of the entire trip, A PASTA MAKING CLASS! All I really wanted to do in Italy was eat pasta, drink wine, and relax. But the second thing I wanted to do in Italy was make pasta.
Toward the end of the trip I was getting worried that we weren’t going to find a place to make pasta. Most of the things online were all in Italian or several day courses. In Bologna we stumbled upon the Vecchia Scuola Bolognese about a 10 minute walk from our hotel.
We signed up for the one day speed course for tourists for 86€ a person. This place was the real deal! This was not a sit around, drinking wine, and watching kinda place! We worked non-stop from 10 am to about 2 pm making dough, forming pasta, learning how to make filling, and really got the Italian 101 on all things pasta. At the end of the half day class we got to feast on some of our creations like tortoleni soup, ricotta filled pasta, and tagliolini with Bolognese sauce.
The teachers didn’t speak English too well, but were every encouraging and helpful. Italians believe in high quality food and really have a immense love for their food. It really shows in the time, preparation, high quality ingredients, and delicious finished product.
My experience at Vecchia Scuola Bolognese left us on cloud 9! I would highly recommend this school if you are ever in the area, and you have a love for pasta! I can’t wait to try out our techiniques here at home and can’t wait to throw our first pasta dinner party!
One of Steve’s must dos in Italy was touring the Ducati motorcycle factory in Bologna. He went online ahead of time and booked us a tour on September 4, 2012. I, on the otherhand, am not a huge fan of motorcycles, but decided to be a good sport and go along for the tour.
There are tours of the factory most days of the year, but they do require advance bookings and do limit the amount of people a day in the tour.
Our tour group was had about 30 people, and we were split up into two groups. The tour costs 10€ and lasted about 2 hours. We got to tour the factory and museum with a bright and smiling female tour guide with long blond hair and tall motorcycle boots on. We got the full history of Ducati starting in 1926 and the evolution of the brand, motorcycles, and racing.
Even being a motorcycle non-fan, I was very impressed by the Ducati tour and their well made motorcycles. We got to see mechanics in action working on the bikes, since all Ducati bikes are assembled by hand. The Ducati museum was especially interesting and we saw some of the coolest motorcycles I have ever seen in my life.
Steve was in la-la land and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. He even purchased the most ridiculously expensive cotton t-shirt (without asking the price) from their gift shop for 46€, but I thought it was probably better we leave with a pricey t-shirt and not a motorcycle.
On Monday September 3, 2012 we packed up and left Sant’Engle and headed to Bologna. We were planning to end our trip in Milan (since that is where we were flying home from), but Steve wanted to make a quick stop in Bologna to take a tour of the Ducati motorcycle factory.
I guess it is a little tough to get a tour of the factory, and so Steve had to book our tour online months in advance. We got a tour date for September 4th and planned the end of our trip around it. We arrived in Bologna a day early to explore the city and rest.
We loved Bologna and were refreshed by this laid back university town. Bologna is the home to the world’s oldest university, The University of Bologna. We stayed in the downtown area and enjoyed the rustic old buildings and diversity. Tourists were virtually non-existent here, which was very refreshing. Our favorite part of the city were a couple blocks with open markets and delis packed with meats and fresh pastas!
The areas of Sorano, Pitigliano, and Sovana are known for their vie cave, pronounced vee-ah cavay, meaning sunken roads. The vie cave are narrow paths that the Etruscans (pre-Roman civilization in ancient Italy, similar to the Egyptians) cut into the tufa or soft stone. These paths were used as roadways to link settlements and necropolis that housed Etruscan tombs.
There are several vie cave that people now days can visit, and they are more like a recreational walk or hike. The two cave that we hiked were the Via Cava di San Giuseppe and the Via Cava of San Rocco.
These cave are a must see if you are in the area. Standing in these carved trenches it is hard to believe that they were built as early as 2nd century B.C. Since there are necropolis through out the paths, the air and feeling of the area is very sacred and ominous. We had a great time hiking around and imagining what it might have been like to live in B.C. times as an Etruscan.
The area of Tuscany that were were in is known for their termes or natural hot springs. One day we visited the Terme di Sorano, and it was more like an amusement park-country club in one and charged 9€ a person to enter. It was nice, but we didn’t like the commercial exploitation of the whole thing.
We heard about a bigger and more famous terme about 60 kilometers away from Sorano called Terme di Saturnia. There was suppose to be an area down stream that locals went to that was free.
Terme di Saturnia is located in the Manciano Province of Grosseto and after visiting the town of Montalcino Steve figured that we could get to the terme in about 45 minutes. After about a million windy roads, an hour and a half later, and many complaints from me we finally found the terme.
We parked our car in a small parking lot and followed crowds of people to the crazy spectical yet…
Speedos, wrinkly old people, couples making out, no foreign tourists, especially Americans, Steve and I were definitely out of our element and got a few too many stares in our direction. We shook off the stares and took a soak in the luke warm sulfur smelling water.
The water was soothing and not as warm as I had wished, but still nice and relaxing since the air outside was cool. There were tiny little smooth pebbles in the terme that were nice to sit on, but got into your bathing suit. This trip to the terme was definitely one of the most unique on our trip, and we were happy to see that something in Italy was actually free, since they seem to charge for everything else!