Montenegro is located in the southeastern European region known as the Balkans right along the Adriatic Sea. It is the least populated Balkan nation. The name Montenegro means “black mountain” in Venetian Italian. Although its name is derived from Italian, Montenegro is a Slavic nation and not Latin. That’s why they call their own country Crna Gora, which means “black forest”. It probably won’t surprise you that Montenegro has lots of mountains and forests. The best and by far the coolest way to see the 1300 meter high Tara Canyon is rafting, you know the tiny boats on a wild river. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at one of the many many monasteries especially Ostrog Monastery which is built inside a mountain.
Things you didn’t know about Montenegro:
- Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is one of the biggest bird reserves in Europe. It’s home to over 270 bird species and is a vitally important stop for migrating birds. Among the most popular on the lake are the Dalmatian Pelicans.
- They have a lazy Olympics in the town of Brezna. You can win about €400 for just being the one that lays down and does nothing for the longest.
- Montenegrins are known to be very relaxed. In that effort, they have their own set of commandments to live by. Among them are: “Love thy bed as you love thyself”; “If you see someone resting, help him”; and “If you have the urge to work, sit down, wait and you’ll see it will pass.”
- His Imperial and Royal Highness Stefan Cernetic, Hereditary Prince of Montenegro, Serbia and Albania has been attending gala dinners, giving out Orders (for a fee) and hobnobbing with celebrities and aristocrats for years.Montenegro hasn’t had a royal family since 1918. But that didn’t stop Mr Cernetic from conferring Pamela Anderson the title of Countess of Giglio in a ceremony, in which she knelt before him and thanked him for his generosity, in 2015.
- Montenegro is one of the founding members of the Red Cross
I love this rice dish. It is a popular meditarian dish and one of my favourites! The ink doesn’t only add color but also a rich flavor!Read the rest of this entry »
Moldova, a tiny tiny country in Eastern Europe wedged between Romania and Ukraine. The national hero of Moldova is Stephen the Great who is Dracula’s (then know as Vlad The Impaler) cousin. He fought the Turks and won 46 of his 48 battles. He was crowned by the Pope as Atleta Cristi which means Champion of Christ. Then there is the story of Transnistria a country within a country that is nog recognised by the rest of the world as country but a part of Moldova. Nonetheless they have their own currency (which is useless everywhere else), visa, border patrol. The biggest part of Moldova feels connected to Europe, but Transnistria feels more connected to Russia and the old Sovjet Union.
Things you didn’t know about Moldova:
- Moldova is placed the 12th among the top world wine exporters. Vine growing and wine making in Moldova counts for almost 5,000 years. And also the largest underground wine cellar in the world, Cricova, is “hidden” in this country. It’s a 120km long and the deepest point is more then a 100m deep. The wine cellar holds at about 40 million liters of wine.
- Cleopatra Stratan holds the record for the highest paid young artist, the youngest artist to receive an MTV award and the youngest artist to score a #1 hit in a country.
- In the time of the USSR Soroca became the Gipsy capital of the world.
- The biggest animal that ever lived on this territory is “Denoterium”, a breed of what is known to be like an elephant. The animal’s skeleton is now preserved in the ethnographic museum and is considered to be the second biggest in Europe.
This is a really nice recipe perfect for hot summerdays accompanied with a nice salad! The herbs make it nice and fresh!Read the rest of this entry »
Malta, With 3 times more tourists than inhabitants it is a great example of a mass tourism spot. Malta is the ultimate mediterranean holiday in Europe: sun, beaches and cheap liquor. Malta has a really rich history, and the reason for that is mainly due to it’s strategic placement in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. In the past 7000 years Malta has been a part of many empires and conquered a lot; The Romans, The Arabs, The Knights of St. John, The French, and The British. They all left their mark on the tiny island. The capital of Malta is Valetta a beautiful city that is on the Unesco list and for good reason. On less than 1 km² there are over 300 historical monuments. The most important one is st. Johns Co-Cathedral built by the Knights of St. John, they ruled the island in the 16th century. The Knights of St. John were extremely rich and lived their lives to serve God. The cathedral is covered in gold and it’s all real, none of it paint.
To discover the rest of the island you take the touristy bus ofcourse, but you can also go your own way and hop on one of the local busses. All the public transport busses on the island were imported from Great Britain in 1955.
Malta is also of the best diving spots in Europe. The water is so clear that in some places you can see 30 meters deep, the reefs are beautiful and there a few shipwrecks at the bottom of the see when on a diving tour.
Things you didn’t know about Malta:
- During World War I, Malta was also known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean because a large number of wounded soldiers were accommodated on the island.
- Malta is devoid of forests and rivers. Yes, you would not find any of these across its seven islands. Malta is mainly made up of limestone, and there are no hills in the country that are higher than 300 meters.
- You might be surprised to learn that there are more Maltese people in Melbourne, Australia then there are in Malta.
A perfect little handpie to bring for a picknick (i took them to the beach the next day) . Of course you can also eat them immediately. Yummy and delicious, if you leave out the lardons you can make it a vegetarian dish. Please do add a little extra salt if you leave out the bacon.Read the rest of this entry »
Macedonia a beautiful mixture of cultural contrasts. Part Balkan, part Mediterranean and rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history this combination makes Macedonia a fascinating country. Ohrid is the place to be in Macedonia. Best of all is that you can be skipping through historic monuments one minute and lying on a deck chair with your toes in the water of Lake Ohrid the next. The reconstruction of the capital Skopje following the 1963 earthquake was mainly conducted by the Polish architect Adolf Ciborowski, who had already planned the reconstruction of Warsaw after World War II. The plan turned Skopje into a modernist but grey city. At the end of the 2000s, the city center experienced profound changes. A highly controversial urban project, “Skopje 2014”, was adopted by the municipal authorities in order to give the city a more monumental and historical aspect, and thus to transform it into a proper national capital. Several neoclassical buildings destroyed in the 1963 earthquake were rebuilt, including the national theatre, and streets and squares were refurbished. Many other elements were also built, including fountains, statues, hotels, government buildings and bridges. The project has been criticised because of its cost and its historicist aesthetics.
Things you didn’t about Macedonia:
- Alexander the Great, the once-king of the Kingdom of Macedonia was the world’s first conqueror, who extended an empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt.
- Macedonia was one of the only countries during the break up of Yugoslavia to remain at peace throughout.
- Kokino, to the north of the country, is one of the world’s oldest observatories, as recognized by NASA and dating back to the 19thcentury BC. It is inscribed on a Unesco “tentative” list of protection.
- Skopje, the capital, is said to be seven thousand years old and was known in the Roman period as Scupi
This recipe is perfect if you’re having vegetarians or vegans over for dinner or just as a side dish. The spices are just right! and it’s great to eat with just a piece of toast. My best friend is a vegetarian, and she loved this because it is often hard to find something that is filling and easy to make!
Luxembourg a tiny crazy rich beautiful landlocked country smack in the middle of Europe. I wonder why people don’t go to Luxembourg more often. Because it is stunning, nature is unforgettable since one-third of the country is covered in forest with easy hiking trails since they don’t really have mountains, (even though they call them mountains) they have hills. The food is old school comfort food, things like wild boar with apples and fresh trout. It is one of they tiniest bust also one of the richest and most influential countries in the world. During both World Wars, they remained neutral even though they got occupied by Germany. They were one of the founding members of both NATO and the European Union.
Things you didn’t know about Luxembourg:
- Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU – paying workers a minimum of EUR 1,923 per month.
- The restaurant with the world’s largest wine list is in Luxembourg. If you visit the Restaurant Chiggeri in the city of Luxembourg, you can take your pick from more than 2,200 different wines.
- Luxembourg’s motto is ‘mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn‘ which means ‘we want to remain what we are’.
- Just under half of the permanent residents in Luxembourg are foreign – with around 170 different nationalities living in the country. Portuguese make up the biggest group at 16.4 percent.
This dish tastes really fancy but it dead easy!!!
Liechtenstein a tiny little dot smack in the middle of Europe. Squeezed in between Switzerland and Austria. Liechtenstein is the stuff of fairytales – a mountain principality governed by an iron-willed monarch, embedded deep in the Alps and crowned by tiny castles. Only 25km long by 12km wide (at its broadest point), Liechtenstein doesn’t have an international airport, and access from Switzerland or Austria is by local bus. The western, more populated side of the country is in the Rhine Valley and relatively flat; the east is mountainous. Outdoor enthusiasts are in their element here, with a large number of trails to hike and slopes to ski given the country’s size. Go out into the Alpine wilderness beyond Vaduz and, suddenly, this landlocked little nation no longer seems so small.
Things you didn’t know about Liechtenstein:
- Switzerland unintentionally invaded Liechtenstein in March 2007, when about 170 Swiss infantry soldiers wandered across the unmarked border for more than a mile into Liechtenstein before realizing their mistake.
- Once a year, ALL the residents are invited to party in a castle. On Liechtenstein’s national holiday, His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II, the head of state, and his son, His Serene Highness Hereditary Prince Alois, invite the residents of their tiny principality to have a beer in the garden of Vaduz Castle, the princely ancestral residence.
- It’s the world’s leading manufacturer of false teeth. Based in the mini-metropolis of Schaan, a company called Ivoclar Vivadent leads the world in false teeth manufacturing, accounting for 20 percent of the total sales worldwide.
- In a pamphlet directed toward new immigrants, mowing lawns or holding “noisy festivities” during the country’s official lunch break, which runs from noon to 1:30 p.m, is strongly advised against. The same holds true after 10 p.m.
- Liechtenstein was originally purchased by the princes of Liechtenstein—the principality was christened after their family name—for its political value. The princes bought what’s now known as Liechtenstein because it was the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire, and owning it meant that they could obtain a seat and a vote in the Imperial Diet in Vienna, thereby increasing their power.
This good fulfilling recipe will warm you right up after an intensive day of skiing in the mountains or hiking it’s very nice and cheesy!
When I think of Latvia I think cold and woods full of pine trees. Which is not wrong, but not the only things identifying Latvia. First of all it one of the least densely populated countries in the European Union with only 2 million inhabitants. (compared to where I live in the Netherlands, 18 million people!!!)
Nearly half of the entire population lives in the capital Riga. The capital is an interesting mixture of somber Sojvet and ancient medieval buildings. Apart from the large forests, there are also beautiful beaches.
During Soviet times they were zoned off as a high-security military base, strictly out of bounds to civilians. The region’s development was stunted and today the desolate coastal villages feel as though they’ve been locked away in a time capsule.
Things you didn’t know about Latvia:
- Over 50% of Latvia is covered by forest, and it’s one of the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet.
- Latvia has the highest rate of fashion models per capita in the world.
- A Latvian-Jewish tailor invented jeans (Levi Strauss backed him financially)
- The Latvian culture still retains many Baltic pagan traditions, such as the celebration of the summer solstice (sees picture above), when Latvians go to the countryside to get drunk, to dance, light huge bonfires and do something called seeking the fern flower (having sex in the forest)
- When Swedish Vikings were at the height of their power around 1187, ancient Latvian chiefdoms not only stopped them from conquering their country but sent a fleet of ships to the then Swedish capital Sigtuna and burned it to the ground.
This recipe was kind of a bummer to be really honest, i didn’t really like the potato pancakes, they were a bit boring for my taste. The kotletes on the other hand were perfect quick easy meal!
Kosovo, Europe’s newest country, in the heart of the Balkans. After years and years of war, it is finally perfectly safe to travel to this stunning underrated destination! With its charming mountain villages and 13th-century monasteries.
While a lot of countries recognize Kosovo there are still some that don’t. The country has been the recipient of massive aid from the international community, particularly the EU and NATO, which effectively keeps the peace between the ethnic Albanian majority and the minority Serbs. Barbs of its past are impossible to miss, however: roads are dotted with memorials to those killed in 1999, while NATO forces stillguard Serbian monasteries.
Things you didn’t know about Kosovo:
- Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are local heroes. There are streets and children named after them, not to mention a Clinton statue. So if you’re looking for a different view on the world, Kosovo will spin new perspectives. The NATO support in the liberation of the Albanian population from the oppressive regime of Slobodan Milošević was regarded as the most successful example of western intervention in recent history. This means Brits, Americans and others are welcomed with open armed gratitude. Be prepared; it’s highly likely you’ll be thanked personally.
- Because tourism in Kosovo is only just beginning, that means prices are seriously undervalued. Accommodations in Kosovo offer great value. You can stay in a massive suite at the nicest hotel in the entire country for less than the price of an average hotel in an American city. A cup of coffee costs between fifty cents to one euro depending on the café. A traditional meal can be had for as little as €1.50, while a bottle of beer is around €1.
- The majority of the population of Kosova is under the age of 30.
This dish might not specifically be from Kosovo but rather from the region. But it’s got all the right flavours and spices that they use. For me ticks all the boxes of comfort food! I was a little worried about the rice not cooking inside the bell peppers, but it worked like a charm, the rice got perfectly cooked and the spice of the harissa paste gave it a lovely kick!!!
Boy oh boy do I have some story about Rome…
Last year I went to Rome with my 2 sisters and my brother. Apart from Rome being an amazing city with epic food! To do as much sightseeing as we could we decided to rent 3 scooters, I was sitting in the back of brother’s scooter. In the beginning, everything went great, just the 4 of us cruising through the eternal city of Rome… but then after lunch, things started to go south… While eating our pizza we were discussing where to go next. My little sister was going to read the map, I don’t remember exactly where we were trying to go, but the point is we got lost and just a little lost, very very lost! My little sister managed to get accidentally get us on the highway during the freaking rush hour, with cars honking beside us!! We took the first exit we could find, to a parking. My brother was livid, my older sister panicking, I was calm as day (no idea why), but my little sister has this very annoying habit that when she gets nervous or stressed she starts laughing hysterically and can’t stop.
Which managed to piss off my brother, even more, this kick-started an enormous fight between them. We tried to find our way back to the hotel, getting lost over and over again, my brother getting angrier by the second! Eventually, my older sister stepped in, I got in a cab and asked the cab driver to drive me to the hotel while my brother and sisters followed. I have never been so happy to get back to a hotel!
Things you didn’t know about Rome:
- Tradition has it that throwing a coin over your left shoulder into Trevi Fountain will ensure a trip back to the Eternal City, but it also helps feed the needy. The Catholic charity Caritas collects the coins and uses the proceeds on a supermarket program that provides rechargeable grocery cards to Rome’s low-income citizens. Over a million dollars worth of coins is tossed into the fountain each year, or over $3,000 a day.
- In September 1870, Rome found itself under siege by the Italian army and was formally annexed by the Kingdom of Italy on October 2nd that year. The wars leading to the unification of Italy had already been going on for decades, and essentially ended when Rome was captured and made capital in 1871.
- Almost everyone has heard the saying that “all roads lead to Rome.” In fact, Romans would have flipped that saying on its head. In their view, all roads led from the Milliarium Aureum, or Golden Milestone, erected by Augustus in the Roman Forum. The Romans had an impressive network of highways and roads, necessary not just for trade but for military transport. Many still exist, including a section of the Appian Way.
This pasta really is as simple as it gets! But it’s hella good!!!! Cheese, black pepper and butter three of the best ingredients in the world in my opinion! Pasta Cacio e Peppe is basically the elevated version of the pasta with cheese you craved as a kid. And a great option when your broke 😛
Every time I hear Sicily The Godfather theme song starts playing in my head! Sorry for the stereotyping… but after the research I did I am apparently not that far off.
Sicily is still largely ruled by the Mafia, and I don’t think it’s as romantic and exciting as it sounds… It just means lots and lots of corruption. The Mafia is an everyday part of life in Sicily, I mean over 80% of businesses in Palermo pay pizzo (protection money). The strangest thing is the government only recently (1992) started fighting back against the mafia, before that no one really cared… Imagine having your country been taken over by organised crime and no one actually giving a damn about it.
Nonetheless, the island of Sicily is supposed to be extraordinary, and I really really really wanna go there especially since Palermo the capital has been awarded the title of best street food capital of the world!!!
Things you didn’t know about Sicily:
- According to Greek mythology, ships that pass to the Messina strait between Sicily and Calabria are in danger of being attacked by Scylla and Charibdys, the monsters that guard either side of the narrow passage. This myth gave rise to the expression “between Scylla and Charybdis,” a local equivalent to “between a rock and a hard place.”
- The Sonnet! The most famous of all traditional poetic forms, consisting of fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter with an elaborate rhyme pattern, was originally invented by a poet from the Sicilian school, Giacomo da Lentini. From Italy, the sonnet was taken to France and England, where writers such as William Shakespeare made extensive use of the form.
- The hilltop town of Corleone has become synonymous with the Mafia: the place where bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano were raised was also chosen by Mario Puzo as the home town of his characters in The Godfather.
- While the Invasion of Normandy, or D-Day, is celebrated as the great turning point of World War II, it is also true that the invasion of Sicily by the Allies in 1943 was an earlier victory that began turning the tables on the Axis powers. Codenamed Operation Husky, the battle lasted for 38 days and culminated with a decisive victory for the invading Allied forces.
- Sicily is rich in ancient Greek ruins, and many say that they surpass in beauty those found in modern-day Greece. For a long time, the ancient Greeks controlled a large part of the island, mostly in the eastern region around Syracuse, where the famous mathematician Archimedes was born. Well-preserved Greek ruins still remain in Syracuse, Taormina, and near Agrigento. The latter is the location of the famous “Valley of the temples,” a collection of seven different temples dedicated to different Greek deities.
This is basically my twist on Pasta a la Norma/caponata, Sicilians love eggplants any way they can get them so almost every Sicilian dish contains them. No problem for me since I really like eggplants. This is pasta I have been making for years, one of the first recipes I came up with myself, by simply being broke and working with what I had laying around… Back then I used canned roasted eggplant and canned tomatoes and all the spices were dried and that works fine as well but fresh veggies are just so much better believe me. And on the plus side, it is really quick and easy.