Interviews with other travellers: Brit

Next up on our traveller interviews is Brit, a 20 something Canadian, currently in Portugal.  Brit has travelled Africa, the Caribbean and India.  Today she’s going to tell us about her adventures including nightmare experiences and why they haven’t put her off travelling.

So to start, can you give us a brief outline of your travelling experience – where you have travelled and how long you have been travelling?

I’ve been travelling for the last 6 years. Mostly in Africa, as I was volunteering in Rwanda on and off for the past 6 years. I’ve also travelled to much of the Caribbean, and to India. I’ve been travelling full time since the beginning of September this year. I gave up my apartment in Toronto and decided to just go for it. I was spending so much time traveling that it was hard for me to justify paying rent every month for a place I was at only half of the time.

How and why did you decide to start travelling? How long did it take you to decide to actually do it?

I have always been extremely curious about the world. I started traveling for this reason and have always try to mold my life and employment choice around travel. I worked as a flight attendant in university. I studied international development and worked in that field in Rwanda. About 2 years ago I went back to school to learn how to code and I’ve been freelancing ever since. I started doing short trips, working and traveling and now I am working and traveling full time as a digital nomad.

It can be scary selling all of your things and giving up your apartment. Even if you hardly spend anytime there, having a home to go back to can be very comforting. It took me about 6 years of traveling to finally go all in but I am really happy I made that decision.

 

So true, I only sold my car rather than apartment, but it is hard giving things up. Can you tell me how much you initially saved up to start your travels?

I really didn’t save up that much money. I had about $2000 in the bank when I left for Europe in September.  

Do you fund your travels by working along the way? If so can you tell me about the jobs you have completed?

I do fund my travels by working along the way. I am a software developer so I make websites for clients, mostly wordpress sites for small businesses. I also teach coding workshops and other workshop. Plus I’ve also done social media management and worked with hostels doing photography copyrighting and social media in exchange for free stays and meals.

 

That’s great, you have so many skills, you can check out Brit’s portfolio and find out how to contact her if you’d to work with her here http://brittanyhemming.com. So, what other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?

I exchange work for accommodation and some meals, I don’t eat out very often and cook most of my meals, I’m usually very flexible with dates so I can find pretty cheap flights and I travel slow, by staying in one place for a while you usually tend to save a little more money. I also write a travel and lifestyle blog http://staycuriousdarling.com so sometimes I will get free tours or accommodation in exchange for blog posts and social media posts. When you are invited to a place by the tourism board they usually cover your flights as well which is really nice.

 

 

Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?

Africa will always have a special place in my heart. Rwanda is my favourite country to visit. I’ve made friends there that have turned into family and I go back every year. I also really love Capetown. It’s a really cool city with a great vibe.

 

 

 

So you’ve had a few nightmare experiences, would you mind sharing those with us?

I’ve had a few not so pleasant experiences but I’ve learned from them and I am thankful for what they taught me. I once asked 3 American girls to watch my bag for me when I was at a bus stop in Namibia and I had to go and get money to pay my visa at the next border. I was gone for maybe 20 mins and my bag weighed about 25kg so I didn’t want to lug it with me to the bank. When I returned my bag was gone and so were the girls. It was all I owned in the world at that time and I was pretty crushed but after a day of feeling sorry for myself I learned that I really didn’t need material things to be happy and traveled much lighter for the next few weeks.

I think my scariest incident was in Dar es Salaam. I don’t talk about this very much but I was held at gun-point in a taxi cab for four hours by four men. They took my bank card and credit cards, made me give them my pin numbers and held me in the car while they drained my accounts. It wasn’t a nice experience and it’s not something I ever want to relive. I didn’t think they were going to let me go and all I could think about was that my poor mother would never know what happened to me. But they did let me go unharmed after they had drained my accounts. Although it was a terrible experience money can be replaced. I’m much more cautious when I travel now. I’m not saying it won’t happen again but I think I learned from the experience and I am very aware of my surroundings. Besides, usually when something bad happens, something good happens afterwards that will restore your faith in humanity. I had a bus ticket back to Kigali the next day and this really nice Tanzanian man who was studying in Rwanda noticed that I wasn’t getting off the bus to get food every time it stopped. We started chatting and eventually he asked me why. I told him what happened to me the day before and explained that I didn’t have any money and after that without even asking, whenever he got off the bus to buy food he bought me some too. He didn’t have much but he shared what he did have with me and expected nothing in return. He also walked with me once I got back to Kigali and made sure I got to where I was going safely.

 

That sounds horrendous, but I’m so glad it hasn’t put you off travelling. Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I am a strong believer that life turns out the way it’s supposed to and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t think I would have done very much differently in my life. I am happy for the lessons I’ve learned and I think I am exactly where I want to be at this point in my life.

Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?

It depends what you mean by settle down. I would love to meet a partner that I could share my life with. Get married and have kids one day. Will I change my lifestyle when that happens. I hope I never have to settle down completely. I see families that travel the world together and live perfectly stable lives. I find that inspiring. I don’t think you need to live your life the way other people expect you to. At the end of the day you have to go to bed with yourself each night and wake up with yourself each morning. Do what makes you happy and what feels right for you.

What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?

I would say what are you waiting for? The world is a big, wonderful and inspiring place. There is so much to learn and so much to discover. Do your research and have some money in the bank but there are ways to travel cheaply and if you wait until you have saved “enough” or until you are “ready” you may be waiting forever. Just get out there and find a way to make it work. There are so many resources available now. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. You can WOOF, au pair, volunteer at hostels, get a working visa, etc. Just get out there and start.

 

That’s great, thank so much Brit for taking the time and being an inspiration. If you want to keep up with Brit, you get find out about her adventures at http://staycuriousdarling.com.

 

The perfect Cosmopolitan at home

I never used to drink Cosmopolitans, but I’ve got totally into them at the moment!  Saving for that holiday, or want to quit your job to go travelling?  One tip to save money on drinking out is to drink at home, or even pre-drink before you go out so you don’t spend as much.  For instance, organise a girls night in, get each friend to bring a different bottle of spirits and supply the fruit, ice, snacks etc to make your own.  Host a party where people bring their own drinks or have a movie night and ask friends to bring a bottle.

If you haven’t got a cocktail shaker, you can pick one up here, of course lovely cocktail glasses go down a treat too!

Here’s a cosmopolitan recipe to get you started.

Ingredients:
25ml vodka (if you want to mix it up a little you can try citron vodka)
25ml triple sec
75ml cranberry juice
25ml fresh lime juice
Orange peel or a lime slice
Ice

Method:
Add the ice to the cocktail shaker and pour in all the ingredients, except the fruit. Shake well and strain into a cooled martini glass. Garnish with orange vest or a lime slice. If you’re a perfectionist, rub the edge of the glass with the citrus for each flavor.  Enjoy!

 

48 hours in Sydney: Coastal walks, scenic views, city sights and cocktails of course!

Australia is such a vast country, there is so much to explore, so you can be forgiven if you only have a short time to explore Sydney. Here’s my guide for 48 hours in Sydney to get to see some of the top sights, whilst enjoying some cocktails and exploring more of Sydney than the city centre.

Saturday:

9:00am

Enjoy a light snack and a drink at one of Sydney’s many cafes and coffee shops. I’m not a coffee drinker, but from what I hear Australia’s coffee is the best, so make sure you check it out!

9:45am

Head to Coogee (the bus is easy from the city). Enjoy the beach and have a stroll around.

10:30am

Take brunch at Coogee Pavilion to set you up for the day and your walk ahead.

11:15am

Walk the coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi Beach. Make sure you bring your camera to capture some scenic shots as you pass Gordons Bay.

12:00noon

Stop off at Clovelly Beach, enjoy watching people swimming.

1:00pm

Pass by Waverley Cemetery for some atmospheric shots.

1:30pm

Carry on, stopping for photos at Bronte Beach and Tamara Beach.

2:00pm

Arrive at Bondi and head to Icebergs for some lunch, to enjoy seasonally inspired modern Australian food (they have a cocktail menu too if you enjoy an afternoon drink!). Make sure to take photos of the pool! If you fancy a dip, it’s $6.50 for swimming or $4.50 for spectators, which includes sauna entry.

3:45pm

Head back into the city, stopping in for an hour at the Paddington markets which are open to 5pm. Every Saturday there have over 150 stalls offering Australian fashion, art, jewellery and food stalls. Perfect for those souvenirs, much better than the tacky kangaroo balls you’ll find around the city!

5:00pm

Head back to your accommodation to freshen up before dinner.

7:00pm

Head over to Cockle Bay Wharf at Darling Harbour to enjoy a meal at Café del Mar, enjoying relaxing but upbeat music whilst dining on their tasty menu. I’ve enjoyed the sharing lamb ($64), their menu changes regularly so I’ve actually tried a few flavours of this dish! Just this week I’ve enjoyed this season’s menu of slow cooked Merryland lamb shoulder accompanied with salsa verde. If like me, you’ve managed to snap up a groupon or scoopon voucher for this restaurant you’ll need to make an earlier booking for the first tables of the night, but it’s well worth the saving. Along with fries ($9), it’s far too much for two people and could easily feed three!

8:30pm/9:00pm

If you’re lucky you’ll have timed your visit to co-inside with the Darling Harbour fireworks.

9:30pm

Next it’s time for some views, take your pick of the Shangri-La Hotel to enjoy the stunning views whilst drinking cocktails at their rooftop bar, or head up to the Sky Tower to the 360 bar, to sample their cocktail menu.

11:30pm

If you’re not yet feeling ready for bed, make the most of the evening, head to one of Sydney’s clubs such as Chinese Laundry, Home to check out Sydney’s night life, or test out a backpacker’s bar such as Scary Canary.

Sunday:

7:30am

Early start today! Grab a light bite and head to the Opera House to capture your photos of this iconic building in all of it’s glory before the morning crowds arrive.  make sure you snap the Sydney Harbour Bridge too, it’d be hard to miss it’s looming presence.

8:00am

On a Sunday using an Opal card only costs $2.50 all day! So next head to Circular Quay to take the ferry to Rose Bay, make sure you take some shots of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

8:15am

Head from Rose Bay up towards the Hermitage Foreshore Walk. If you didn’t get chance to eat breakfast, Sonoma in Rose Bay has some tasty treats! Take the Hermitage Foreshore Walk, where you’ll pass Hermit Bay. There’s some stunning views of the city in the distance, look closely and you can see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

9:15am

Snap away some more photos at Milk beach and if you like head for the grounds of Strickland House, before arriving at Shark Beach for a break

10:00am

Carry on, making sure you take in views of the boats at the Beach Paddock. If you fancy it, hop off the track and head over to Vaucluse House and wander around it’s gardens.

10:15am

Head over the bridge at Parsley Bay, this is one of my favourite sights in Sydney, the green blue water is so inviting. Take a dip if you like!

11:15am

Explore Kutti Beach and Gibson’s Beach reserve before arriving at Watsons Bay.

12:00pm

After all that walking you’ll have worked up a thirst, stop in at the Watson’s Bay Hotel. Take a seat overlooking the bay, sit back and enjoy people watching in the sunshine.

1:00pm

Head over to the Gap to take some photos looking over the cliffs, before heading to the ferry wharf.

1:30pm

Jump back on the ferry at Watsons Bay. You’ll get some more amazing views as the ferry takes you back to Circular Quay.

1:45pm

Wander through The Rocks, this historic area of Sydney’s city centre on an interesting jaunt.

2:00pm

After all that walking you’ll have built up quite an appetite. Stop into El Camino Cantina, where you can sample their Tex Mex Sunday brunch. For $29 you can add a bar package for 1 hour in addition to your brunch. Go on, after all that exercise I think a few margaritas are in order!! Make sure you check out their monthly margarita flavour. Out of the standard choices, my favourite is the frozen mango margarita, and it’s great to cool down on a hot day.

3:00pm

Head through The Rocks to Darling Harbour via Barangaroo, enjoy a leisurely walk around Darling Harbour and stop off at Mediterranea restaurant for happy hour (usually 3-6pm) for $10 cocktails or jugs of lager. With all that walking it’ll be nice to chill out.

5:00pm

Head over the bridge and off to Meat District Co. at King Street Wharf, to catch happy hour ($8 cocktails, $5 wines, beers and spirits) before it ends at 6pm. Enjoy a delicious meal, my favourite is the Lamb Hook – tender lamb rump, full of flavour marinated with rosemary and garlic, skewered as a hanging kebab with capsicum (pepper to me!), onion and corn on the cob accompanied with a creamy garlic sauce, served with French fries, sprinkled with rosemary and thyme salt ($35). Or if you’re feeling healthy swap the fries for salad.

8:30pm

By this time I think you’ll be worn out, but if you’re not wander around Darling Harbour and stop off for a drink or too, cocktail in hand is usually where you’ll find me!

Have a few extra days to explore Sydney? Then I’d suggest taking a trip to Manly, head to the Blue Mountains for the day or Taronga Zoo.

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Interviews with other travellers: Emily

Today is the first in my series of interviews with other travellers, I wanted to include these in my blog to pay homage to travellers before me whose blogs I devoured and gave me the aspirations and inspiration to book my one way flight. By sharing these interviews I want to inspire my readers to take that trip they’ve always been meaning to do and show how other travellers are already taking that path.

Today’s interview is with Emily of www.seehertravel.com, a 31 year old currently in Jamaica and we’re going to hear all about her adventures. Emily, can you give us a brief outline of your travelling experience – where you have travelled and how long you have been travelling?

I’ve been travelling on and off since I was 15. My first experience being abroad was a 3-month exchange to France in high school and after that I was hooked. Heading to Australia after high school at the age of 17 when I should have been going to university wasn’t completely what my parents had in mind for me, but it really shaped how I considered travel to be an integral part of life for my adult life. Since those 7 months in driving around Australia in an unsafe car, I have travelled through Southeast Asia for 6 months, lived in the Cook Islands for an internship, done a semester abroad in New Zealand, worked for the UN in Fiji, backpacked through Central America for 3 months, hiked all over Peru, and lived in Kyrgyzstan for 18 months with the Peace Corps. Now I’m living in Jamaica for a year working for a non-profit, exploring this beautiful country as well as many other Caribbean islands (St. Lucia last week, Curacao next week!)

 

Sounds amazing, can you tell us how and why did you decided to start travelling?

My first big trip abroad was at 17 with a girl from high school, Kristen. We weren’t actually close friends, but we sat together in senior math, and one day she leaned over and said she was thinking of going to Australia instead of straight to university and did I want to go. I thought about it for about 5 seconds and said “Sure!”

 

Wow, that’s an early age! How did you initially save up to start your travels?

I have always made travelling a priority: in high school I did menial chores, paper routes, babysitting, house-sitting, and neighborhood labor to make cash, 90% of which I ferociously saved for first my trip to France and then my trip to Australia. Some of my trips have been funded through the work I’m doing, like my time in the Cook Islands and Kyrgyzstan and now Jamaica. My backpacking style is always budget, my philosophy has been to spend less to travel more. I have never had a new car, a big tv, fancy clothes, or the newest iPhone, I prefer to spend my cash on travel.

 

 

Do you fund your travels by working along the way?

Depending on the trip, like Jamaica, the Cook Islands, and Kyrgyzstan I have worked in development through internship/volunteering programs. In Australia, I worked behind a bar in the Outback and picked grapes. When I backpacked Central America and Southeast Asia, I was purely backpacking off of savings, though I did volunteer for a month in Thailand with a children’s centre, which was a great experience and saved me some cash.

 

What other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?

I have written travel blogs for my family and friends for years, but in the last 6 months I have begun considering it a business that can help me travel. I have also begun freelance writing and submitting travel writing to magazines to help pay for fun times. I am very budget conscious, probably to a fault. It is a habit that was formed very young and even 14 years later, I have a hard time breaking my go to budget level mentality (I still end up staying in truly horrid places for no reason at all).

Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?

This is a hard one! I was just in St. Lucia and it was absolutely beautiful. I loved bathing in the mineral pools and taking in the gorgeous scenery. I adored my time in Myanmar, a country I had been obsessed with for years. New Zealand is like my home in Canada but smaller and with meat pies, so it is very high on my list. My time spent in El Salvador was also incredible, so many neat things to do and the people were wonderfully friendly, I unexpectedly hitch hiked more in El Salvador than I have anywhere else, save New Zealand of course!

 

Did you have any nightmare experiences along the way?

Several. I have travelled alone a lot, especially in the last few years, so security as a solo female is always a priority. I’ve has some classic creepy taxi experiences, along with the general catcalling on the street that has gotten too close for comfort. I was in a terrible guesthouse on the Nicaraguan border that was attached to a bar and men were pounding on my door all night. Recently, I was attacked by two dogs here in Jamaica and thought I was going to be maimed for life. I do have some scars, but none incredibly prominent. A monkey jumped on me in Nepal, which to me is an absolute nightmare as a) I despise monkeys (never trust anything with opposable thumbs you can’t reason with) and b) I’m deathly scared of dying from rabies. I did not die from rabies, though I spent an entire night thinking I was going to.

 

Ah! Luckily I’ve managed to avoid animal attacks so far! Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started properly blogging earlier and using my writing talents for my advantage.

 

Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?

I’m in the middle of a existential crisis right now actually, do I keep going with the line of work I’m in Jamaica doing or do I follow through with the travel writing/blogging and see where that takes me? Very tough call, but I can’t ever imagine a day where I say “I’m done” when it comes to travelling and exploring this world.

 

Difficult decision, and there’s still so many more places to explore! What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?

Just do it! You can make excuses for years, I have heard them all: I have a cat, I can’t save money, I ‘need’ a new car, I don’t have anybody to go with, I’m scared etc. All bullshit in my opinion if travel is really something you want to have in your life. I encourage anybody to just get out there and start. Begin with a short 10 trip somewhere relatively simple where your language is spoken. Stay in one place and do day trips. Work your way up to longer trips and more adventurous destinations. And if you’re a solo, and if you are always waiting for someone to go with you, you will never go anywhere, so make a plan, stay in guesthouses with a community feeling, and do what makes you happy!

 

Well thank you Emily for your insights! If you want to follow more on Emily’s adventures, head over to www.seehertravel.com.


Dolphins plus me equals one seriously big smile!

I love dolphins so much, it’s fair to say every holiday, before leaving to go travelling centred around them!  But, nothing had prepared me for the sight of wild dolphins, sure I’d seen them at Seaworld, swam with them in Portugal, but my quest was to find a more natural experience, my heart is torn at seeing these beautiful animals confined to a tank.  I won’t get into the debate of Seaworld here I’ll save that post for another day, because I do believe that Seaworld is the lesser of the evils with it’s conservation work and the way the trainers truly love the animals, however I have seen unhappy dolphins in captivity and so wanted a more natural experience.  I sure got it! I’d been on a boat trip in Tenerife years before hoping to catch sight of them previously with no such luck (although John separately did a similar trip and managed to see wild orcas, I’m so jealous!).  When we were in Key West in 2014 we decided to take a boat trip, randomly hungover after a night at Duvall Street we booked a trip, later anxiety set in, would it be overrun with annoying people.  So I turned to tripadviser and was so glad I did.  Our first choice wasn’t available, however another down the list was and we booked to go with Dolphin Watch on the Patty C, we paid USD$95 each, plus a tip for our amazing captain.  John and I were 2 of the 6 passengers in total, which was great (well apart from one of them’s BO!), our captain was fantastic, giving us loads of information and finding the dolphins.  The most amazing part was that we found a mother and baby, who our captain estimated was not more than 6 weeks old.  It was so amazing to watch them, as we followed them, from a safe distance as not to disturb them.  I love dolphins so much, it was so amazing to witness, they were so beautiful! In addition we also had the opportunity to snorkel, plus a lovely platter of fruit prepared for us afterwards.

Whilst the experience really was great, I longed to see dolphins surf the boats wave, so on a trip to Clearwater in 2015 we decided to take a trip on the boat Little Toot.  This was everything and more from what I expected!  We didn’t even need to leave the bay into the ocean, the crews spotted them, turned on the big power to create the big waves that they love and that was it.  There they were, surfing the waves, jumping out of the ocean, so gracefully it was so truly amazing I was in awe.  A smile plastered across my face, it’s back on my face just thinking of the experience!

If you ever get the chance to experience dolphins in the wild, grab it with both hands, these animals are so beautiful in their natural element.

Want to find a hotel in Florida? Click here!

 


Australian food, may contain traces of what?!!

Moving from the UK to Australia, these food differences are a bit bizarre!

  • Chocolate, yak just yak. You see Dairy Milk then taste the vile monstrosity and view never again. I have to raid the European chocolate, hello Lindt you’re just usually for special occasions, but here you’re my go to for sugar and PMT fix. The limited edition honeycomb mars bar is passable, I think all the sugar makes it taste pretty good so you can’t taste the dodgy chocolate! Crunchie, after over a year I can now tolerate!
  • Tim tams? They’re like penguins, but not as good, although they come in a large variety of flavours.
  • Chicken burgers etc are mostly thigh not chicken breast – I kept getting nasty surprises!
  • Crisps are dire – someone send me a care package – I need Frisps, Discos, French Fries, Monster Munch and Kettle Chips in my life!
  • The colours are just wrong – think you’ve finally found prawn cocktail flavour crisps? That familiar pink packet will have you crying when you realise it’s really salt and vinegar. Blue packet, no it’s not cheese and onion either. Want pickled onion, forget about it!!
  • Sweets (or lollies) as they’re called here aren’t great. You’ll need to go to a British lolly shop if you want anything like fizzy dummies from back home.
  • Flavours are different – pick up a pack of skittles, yum that green apple tasted a lot nicer than the lime, but the purple one, usually my blackcurranty goodness flavour, gross just gross, some awful grape fake flavour!
  • Christmas party food sucks, you can buy mini Asian treats but that’s about it! How is it Christmas without Christmas party food?
  • Orange Fanta in the fast restaurants tastes great – just like the USA, I guessing it’s still full of nasty ingredients but I don’t care I love it! Buy it in the bottle and not so great. Bizarre!
  • Hungry Jacks (Burger King), KFC & McDonalds (or Maccas as they call it – sure you sell similar things, but just so not the same, this is enough to send me packing for home!
  • Get a burger & you’ll most likely get both BBQ & mayo on it. I don’t get it – tomato please any day!
  • Brown sauce is virtually none existent. Mint sauce you’ll need to pay a premium price for imported stuff, but they do have mint jelly. Want Thai sweet chilli sauce? Read the packaging the Australian version is just plain wrong!
  • A trip to the supermarket makes me cry, if you don’t get the Macarena song stuck in your head from all the golden oldie songs they play, then unless you’ve managed a find a superstore then kiss choice goodbye.
  • Want a vast choice of salad or fruit though and you’re in the right place.  Just watch out, the fruit doesn’t last that long.
  • You’ll definitely get to try a lot more things, I might pass on the ducks feet but have tried loads of new fruit and vegetables – pomelo makes a great cocktail!
  • Passion fruit juice? Good luck, I’m surrounded by an abundance of passion fruits – a white tart one I’ve never heard of before and those as big as an orange so why oh why no passionfruit juice?!!
    Of course you know that means no porn star martinis right?
  • Spirits mean an expensive trip to the bottle o (liquor store), but there’s plenty of wine to choose from.
  • Saving cash? Check carefully if you have allergies, you need to be sure you can drink traces of fish and eggs in your goon!
  • Get used to serving yourself in restaurants, a lot give you a buzzer to collect your own food.
  • Want your usual chicken fried rice and chips from the chippy? You’ll have to visit two shops. Get used to Chinese food not tasting anything like the Chinese food you know and love.
  • Don’t get me started on the fish & chips but at least they have more choices on the fish & if you want to be healthy you can get it grilled. Blue eyed cod tastes like chicken by the way. Someone asking about flake? That’s shark by the way, not dandruff or cocaine!
  • Fancy a sausage? Or should that be a banger, snorker or a snag! Check the contents, beef is just plain wrong, don’t get me started on chicken! Want a sausage roll? Check the ingredients, you won’t find pork sausage in that either, it’ll be a mixture of beef and mutton – WTF?!
  • You’ll think you’re in the States with eggplant and zucchini.
  • Anyone for butternut pumpkin? That’s squash to you and me!
  • Capsicum is a pepper by the way, and the red, yellow and orange variety are shockingly double the price of the green.
  • Spanish chorizo – just forget it. And imitation saffron power, wow okay then, now what would those Spaniards say? – good job Jamie Oliver didn’t use that too!!

Eating and drink ‘around the world’ at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

I love the Epcot World Showcase at Disneyworld, Florida, but between September and November it becomes super special as over 30 stalls are adding selling additional food and drinks, Disney describes as ‘a culinary adventure’.  For 2017 it runs from 31 August through until 13 November.  If you’re not local to Florida, I’d suggest visiting Monday to Thursday as weekends can be really busy. This year if you are on the Disney dining plan you can even exchange your table service and quick service credits for 3 snack credits to be used on food (unfortunately not alcohol)! Admission to Epcot is required to attend the festival and guest must be over 21 to purchase alcohol. You can pick up a passport with details of the food and drink available and have fun getting it stamped around ‘the world’! In addition, there are also ‘Eat to the Beat’ Concerts and culinary displays, in addition to Halloween, this truly makes fall my favourite time to visit Orlando.

We’ve visited the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, Disneyworld a few years running, 2016 was the first year we didn’t attend since going on our first trip together there not attending. This year is a definite for sure, since we’ll be getting married out there we get to take our nearest and dearest!  Here’s a look back at our previous eats, I believe mostly still available.  We’ll definitely try and feature the countries we’ve missed when we get to go back. I’m not going to cover restaurant* meals in this post, but they will definitely feature on the blog at a later date, I mean, who doesn’t love Disney food?!

Australia:

Prawns and lamb at Australia

Grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies – I always thought this belonged to New Zealand, but apparently not! This was tasty lamb, topped with potato chips (or crisps to fellow Brits like me!). Yum, I could just eat one of these right now, definitely a winner!
Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas – These prawns were pretty tasty, not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly worth a go! I prefer my prawns with garlic (plus sometimes chilli), but the accompaniments were fine for something a little different.

Belgium:

Potato and leek waffle with beer-braised beef and smoked gouda cream – I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one but I was pleasantly impressed. I can’t remember there being a strong taste of gouda, but would definitely get again.
Canada:

Canadian cheddar cheese soup – If you haven’t been to Le Cellier, this is definitely worth a go, extremely rich and tasty, full of flavour. I believe for 2016 it also includes a pretzel roll would be a lovely welcome addition for dipping!
“Le Cellier” wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle butter sauce – At one of the more expensive samples of the festival this is definitely worth using a snack credit for. Whilst I’m not a major fan of mushroom, this was just lovely. All in all based on the offerings we’ve tasted at Canada, I’m definitely needing to make a reservation at Le Cellier!  (Edit since writing this we’ve been and it was amazing!)

China:

Beijing roasted duck in steamed bun with hoisin sauce – I think the reason we’ve rated so highly on what we’ve chosen is because we usually stick to what we think we will like. In future years we need to be more adventurous and of course that just means more trips to Disney!  This one however was a disappointment, at home in England we really enjoy Chinese crispy Peking duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce, so this one seemed like a winner. However the duck was very fatty so we felt short changed. Also we didn’t enjoy the consistency of the steamed bun, it felt a bit sloppy. I feel I should give this another go, we might of just had bad luck with the fatty duck, but won’t be racing back to eat this one again.
France:

La Passion Martini Slush – Whilst I really

The orange and citron slushes available all year roundenjoyed this 2015 addition, the flavour could not beat the usual Grey Goose Orange Slush made with Grand Mariner which is sold year round at France. Definitely worth a taste though if you’re at the festival – I love these slush cocktails and great to cool down from the Florida heat.

enjoyed this 2015 addition, the flavour could not beat the usual Grey Goose Orange Slush made with Grand Mariner which is sold year round at France. Definitely worth a taste though if you’re at the festival – I love these slush cocktails and great to cool down from the Florida heat.

Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush – I’ve got a big crush for Cosmopolitans at the moment and would love one of these 2014’s edition right now! Again couldn’t beat the Grey Goose Orange Slush, but definitely worth checking out, especially if you are partial to sweet and sour tastes.

This was made with Grey Goose Le Citron vodka, cranberry and passion fruit juice.

Greece:

Spanakopita – This vegetarian offering was one of John’s favourites. Whilst I enjoyed it, I did not feel quite the same way. I felt it was a bit greasy and would have benefitted from the addition of meat. I would try it again, but would prefer to try other offerings first we haven’t yet tasted.
Hawai’i:

Kālua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole® Pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise – I was really expecting to enjoy this, however found it a bit sloppy. I’m really not into wet burgers and repeatedly in Australia keep eating burgers lately which a soggy bottom bun, it’s my pet peeve. To improve this, I think they need to ditch the mayonnaise, but put a little more of the pineapple chutney on, would add to the flavour.
Mexico:

Tequila Flight – I don’t recall eating at this stall as we go a bit nuts for the quick service restaurant in Mexico*. However we did choose to share the tequila flight – 3 shots of different flavoured tequila, including silver and gold. On this occasion I was pretty tipsy later on after experience (plus a few margaritas of course!) – mostly due to the tequila flight, which me and John were supposed to share. However after the first sip he chickened out, turns out the first one was the nicest, the other two could put hairs on your chest, so I definitely got the raw deal! Unless you’re looking to get shit-faced, I’d recommend avoiding this, I’m sure in Cava Del Tequila you could purchase better quality shots.
* I feel the need here to mention and explain the quick service restaurant La Cantina San Angel, which is open all year round. The nachos there are a huge hit for us, which are a staple every trip, and are a great use of a quick service credit. Great value, you can choose what you add, plus then there’s more sauces to help yourself to. Time it right – early before the fireworks and you can enjoy watching them with a seat and of course a few margaritas! We have also had the tacos, however have not found quite as enjoyable as they were quite sloppy.


 

 

Patagonia: 

Grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato purée – this was pretty tasty and whilst didn’t make it into the favourites, was definitely worth testing out. The chimichurri sauce was a nice addition, although not as spicy as what we’ve had elsewhere.
Scotland:

Seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon – I’m often really fussy about scallops as I like them over cooked and not ever had them in a cheese sauce before this offering. We really enjoyed this, it was an unexpected surprise and the sauce and bacon complimented it really well. Definitely one to try again!

 

Sustainable Chew:

Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel, and cheesy mascarpone grits – A new addition in 2015, this doesn’t quite fit with idea of countries, however it was a busy weekend evening and the queues were rather large, this one not so much, so we decided to give it a go. I’m not usually a fennel fan so wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, however it was actually pretty good. The ribs were fall off the bone soft and the grits were a welcome accompaniment I wouldn’t have thought to pair. Happily surprised.

 

I can’t wait to get back to Epcot again in October 2017 to get tasting some more!!