Country #40: The Gambia

Back to West Africa, and I’m thrilled! This will be my first in-depth introduction to The Gambia, and I’m truly excited about it. A country surrounded on three sides by another country (Senegal), and dominated by a single natural feature (the Gambia river), just the physical dynamics of the place seem super cool. Very ready to jump in, meet some new people via my reading, and have the chance to cook some more delicious Western African food.

Here we go!

 

Wassu Stone Circles
Wassu Stone Circles (Image by shaunamullally, via Wikimedia Commons) Senegambian stone circles (megaliths) which run from Senegal through the Gambia and which are described by UNESCO as “the largest concentration of stone circles seen anywhere in the world”.

Thinking Ahead: Cook All The Things!

I am a bit of an obsessive about lists, so I love this time of year. Lists of presents to buy, places to go, gifts to ship, and my very, very favorite: goals for 2018. I love that!

I don’t feel bad if I don’t conquer that last list right away; I look at resolutions for the new year ahead as pleasant aspirations, not mountains to conquer. Even if I never quite hit the actual mark, I’ll have made some forward progress in my life nonetheless. My biggest challenge is to not over-commit; I get so enthusiastic about all of the things I would love to do, and the delight of that fresh start of a new calendar…I want to tackle everything!

Not a good idea, of course, so I’m publicly proclaiming my intention to focus on…FOOD.

More specifically, cooking for The Global Reader. Despite the very best intentions, I’m exiting 2017 18 countries behind – kind of dilutes the power of my tagline, doesn’t it?
“Reading (and eating) my way around the world super slowly and out of sync” just doesn’t have a compelling ring to it…

Procrastination

So. Time to tackle the backlog. I’m going to invite people over to help me cook, photograph, and eat all of the good things waiting on my attention.
Global Sunday Suppers!

Here’s a list of the countries we’ll be working through over the first half of 2018:

Albania
Trinidad & Tobago
Costa Rica
Djibouti
Australia
Panama
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cayman Islands
Romania
Bolivia
Cyprus
South Africa
Hong Kong
New Zealand
Portugal
Japan
Guatemala
Libya

That’s a lot, but because I am who I am, I’ll also wrap up a list of recipes from a British Monarchy Cooking class I took last year, and possibly an Ancient Roman dinner, and a Harry Potter-inspired menu as well. I hope to add more fun stuff like those to my cooking experiences, so if you happen to have a time period/literary character/movie/anything you’d like to tackle…let me know. Let’s cook all of the things!

let-the-feast-begin

 

 

Edinburgh: Wandering

After the marathon day of travel, with our lovely few hours in Paris, we got finally made it to Scotland. Edinburgh, to be precise.

We had an interesting taxi ride to our B&B (yes, a taxi and not an Uber – take taxis in the UK please! I’ll post more about that later!); our driver was a Russian expat who had a fondness for loud techno music, and deeply held beliefs about the earth being flat. I was too tired to argue…sometimes you just have the surf the wave you are presented with. And he was driving.

I’ll write more in-depth about our B&B in another post, but safe to say it was perfect. Nice people, good food, great location, comfy bed, heated floors in the bathroom: I was happy from the moment we checked in. Win!

We slept in the next morning, had a nice leisurely breakfast, and then started walking. Onwards to the Old Town and The Royal Mile!

It was uphill all of the way; gently graded in our neighborhood, and then steep as the surroundings got older. Its a dramatic entrance, no doubt.
We stopped for a pint after all of those stairs, and to take in the scene, walked a lot more, ate some food, and then kept walking.

Heading up into the Old Town
Heading up into the Old Town (image by The Global Reader)
A pint on The Royal Mile
A pint on The Royal Mile (image by The Global Reader)
Looking down towards Holyrood
Looking down towards Holyrood (image by The Global Reader)

Every way you look, every corner you turn, every alley (or close, in the local way) you look down: it’s kind of magical. My husband, who is not prone to wistfulness, said at one point “it’s like a fairy tale.” It really is.

Random Close
Random Close (image by The Global Reader)
Random courtyard off of a random close
Random courtyard off of a random close (image by The Global Reader)
Rooftops in the Old Town
Rooftops in the Old Town (image by The Global Reader)
Looking south from Edinburgh Castle
Looking south from Edinburgh Castle (image by The Global Reader)

 

 

Edinburgh and Dean Village: A Magical Few Hours in a Magical City

I’ve only been home a few days, and there’s a big part of me that’s still in Scotland. So much so that I feel oddly protective about delving too deeply into the trip. I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen for a while, trying to loosen my grip on the experience enough to get a post going.

For some reason, our day in Stockbridge and Dean Village is what shook out, so…here it is.

The entire city of Edinburgh is like walking in a fairy tale. You look one way – it’s beautiful. You turn around – there’s a whole different intriguing view that lures you in. It just goes and goes, which is fantastic and so immersive. You start to feel like the whole world is just this dreamy, quaint place. I didn’t want to leave…

We spent part of our last day in the city, before moving on to Glasgow, walking around Stockbridge and Dean Village. It’s just a few minutes removed from the main parts of the city, but feels a million miles away. Peaceful, calm, beautiful…I would love to be able to walk there everyday.

This is another topic I’m going to dig into deeper on my soon-to-be travel blog, but here are some views into a great morning…