Posts Tagged With: europe

Winter in Europe

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” These song lyrics are never more true than when you are in Europe during the winter. While the temperatures are chilling and snow covers most of the ground, there is also no better time to travel to this continent. The scenery of the different countries is beautiful and you’ll leave with tears in your eyes, wanting to stay. Here are your top tips for planning your trip for winter in Europe.

Where to Go:

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hungary

When to Go: 

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April

What to Pack:

  • Fleece Jacket
  • Insulated Coat
  • Warm Pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Wooly Socks
  • Winter Shoes
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Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland

Known as one of the most beautiful sights in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is made up of more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which are a result of volcanic activity. However, people believe the site was a bridge built for giants.

Legend has it that Finn MacCool was an Irish giant, who was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant, Benandonner. MacCool accepted the duel and built the causeway to travel the North Channel to meet Benandonner.

As for the rest for the story, there are different versions. One states that MacCool defeated Benandonner. Another says he disguised himself as a baby and hid once he saw how big Benandonner was. Benandonner went looking for MacCool, but when he saw the baby’s size, he ran thinking the real MacCool must be even larger than him and destroyed the causeway.

However the legend ends, we can all agree on one thing – Giant’s Causeway is absolutely breathtaking and a must-see.

Some little known facts about the location are:

  1. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.
  2. In 1987, it became a national nature reserve by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
  3. The column’s tops form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot to under the sea.



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7 Things to Know: Germany

Heading to Germany soon? Here are seven things to know before going.

  1. May through October is the high season, while December through March is the best time for skiing.
  2. Be on time. Punctuality is key in Germany.
  3. Waitstaff is only supposed to be tipped 5-10%
  4. Keep your hands out of your pockets when talking to someone.
  5. Be prepared for Germans to correct your behavior and are reserved with compliments.
  6. When finished eating, lay your fork and knife across the right side of your plate.
  7. Germans are very formal. Avoid shouting or chewing gum in public.


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A Greek Classic: Baklava

One of my all-time favorite desserts is the Greek classic baklava. During the 10th grade, I completed a project called “Around the World in 80 Days.” Each student researched a country for 80 days and along with other parts, we had to make a food from that place. My country was Greece and I made baklava. Since then, not a year goes by where I don’t make this yummy food.

Here is how you can make this delicious dessert right in your own home.


  • 1 lb mixed nuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 16 oz pkg phyllo dough
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a  9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. Mix together cinnamon and nuts. Unroll phyllo and cut in half to fit the dish. Cover with a damp cloth, to keep from drying out.
  3. Place two sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the dish. Brush with butter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the nut mixture on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, leaving about 6 unused sheets of phyllo left. Using a sharp knife, cut baklava (all the way through to the bottom of the dish) into four long rows, then nine times diagonally to make triangles.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  5. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey and vanilla. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the syrup over it.


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An English Holiday 

If you are looking for a Downton Abbey inspired English holiday, but want something different than Highclere Castle, these are the perfect spots for you. 

The vacation rentals below vary in price; however, there is a manor for every budget. 

Acton Castle: 


Located near Praa Sands, Cornwall, England, this 18th century seaside castle is great for a family! In fact, the castle sleeps only four people. Only $121 per night. 

Great Tangley Manor:


This 11th century manor is located in Wonersh, Surrey, England and comes with Victorian-style gardens and a moat! Only $1,521 per night. 

Court House Manor: 


More on the higher price end, this estate is a 14-bedroom recently restored manor home, located in Painswick, Cotswolds, England. King Charles I stayed here during the 1643 Siege of Gloucester. Only $4,655 per night. 

And, of course, there is Highclere Castle for the full Downton Abbey experience. 


Located in Newbury, West Berkshire, England, guests can enjoy a stay in the estate’s guest cottages, the London Lodges. The castle is, unfortunately, off-limits for overnight travelers. Only $550 per night. 

For more information on each manor and information on how to rent, please visit their websites. Sites, such as and, also have rental information. 

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The Real ‘Downton Abbey’

My Sundays are spent at Downton. Downton Abbey, that is.

The Masterpiece PBS hit show, Downton Abbey, has taken the world by storm. In six short seasons (yes, I will cry watching the series finale), this show has triggered viewers’ emotions with stories of love, joy, and sadness as the lives of the British Crawley family household, both upstairs and downstairs, unfolded. But, do you know the real history of the Downton Abbey estate, Highclere Castle?

Highclere Castle and Gardens is located in West Berkshire, United Kingdom. The estate’s history dates back to 749 AD, with written records of the land. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Highclere Castle was renovated from it’s original structure as a medieval palace into a castle and garden under the Carnarvon family. In 1878, the inside structural work was completed. The estate has flourished during the Georgian and Victorian times, as well as, the 20th Century. Some interesting facts are below:

  1. During the First World War, Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, turned the Castle  into a hospital and patients began arriving in September 1914.
  2. It was the center of political life during the Victorian era.
  3. Politicians, innovators, aviators, soldiers, and Egyptologists all visited the home.
  4. In 1922, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun.
  5. Today, the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon live partly in the Castle and nearby.

For more information, visit:

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All Hail the Queen: A Look Inside Great Britain

great britain

In honor of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s long reign, I’m going global and taking us to Great Britain!

Great Britain is an island, located off the northwest coast of Europe. It is the largest island in Europe and the ninth largest in the world. The island’s history dates back to over 14,000 years ago and researchers believe it was first inhabited by people who crossed the land bridge from the European mainland. It has stood the test of time through the Roman and Medieval periods and the early modern period. Today Great Britain is part of the United Kingdom and has a population of over 60 million people.

There are several destinations you must stop at, while in the island:

  • London
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Cornwall
  • Oxford

Some lesser known locations are:

  • Isle of Skye, Scotland
  • Cirque of Sligachan
  • Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • Old Royal Naval College, London

Enjoy your next trip across the pond to the wonderful country of Great Britain!

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