National Dish Quest: Experiencing the World Through Food

National Dish Quest: Experiencing the World Through Food

JB Macatulad is one-half of Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. He and his wife Renée are the Traveleaters who enjoy experiencing the world through food.


We love to eat. It’s the one thing that excites us most about travel. For some people, it’s climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or diving the Great Blue Hole. For others, it’s visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site or doing the Camino de Santiago. But for us, it’s the food. Just the thought of tasting something new and unfamiliar is enough to give us a serious case of resfeber.

Food has always played a key role in our travel decisions. If a destination is known for having interesting food, then chances are it’s on our list (if we haven’t crossed it off already). Our desire to try new and unique dishes takes us to some pretty interesting locations.
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Historic Center of Riga

Historic Center of Riga, Latvia - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Overview of the Historic Center of Riga

From the Historic Center of Riga World Heritage inscription:

The Historic Centre of Riga is a living illustration of European history. Through centuries, Riga has been the center of many historic events and a meeting point for European nations, and it has managed to preserve evidence of European influence on its historical development, borders between the West and the East, and the intersection of trading and cultural routes. Riga has always been a modern city keeping up with the current trends in architecture and urban planning, and at the same time, preserving the city’s integrity in the course of development.

Riga, which was founded as a port town in 1201, was one of the key centers of the Hanseatic League in Eastern Europe from the 13th to the 15th century. The urban fabric of its medieval core reflects the prosperity of those times, though most of the earliest buildings were rebuilt for actual needs or lost by fire or war. In the 17th century, Riga became the largest provincial town of Sweden. In the 19th century, it experienced rapid industrial development. It is in this period that the suburbs surrounding the medieval town were laid out, first, with imposing wooden buildings in neoclassical style, and later, when permanent stone buildings were allowed instead, in the Art Nouveau style. In the early 1900s, Riga became the European city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture with around 50 Art Nouveau buildings of high architectural value in the medieval part and more than 300 in the rest of the Historic Centre. The site reflects various architectural styles, which provide valuable insight into the stages of development of Riga as a city. The Historic Centre of Riga is comprised of three different urban landscapes – the relatively well-preserved medieval core, the 19th century semi-circle of boulevards with a green belt on both sides of the City Canal, and the former suburban quarters surrounding the boulevards with dense built-up areas with a rectangular network of streets and wooden architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries. Each of these parts has its characteristic relationship of buildings and public outdoor spaces.

Riga is the capital of Latvia and its historic center is one of two world heritage sites in the country. It is located on the Baltic sea and was one of the original trading cities in the Hanseatic League.

I visited the Vilnius on a G Adventures tour of the Baltic States.

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Vilnius Historic Center

Vilnius Historic Centre UNESCO World Heritage Site

Overview

From the Vilnius Historic Centre World Heritage inscription:

The Vilnius Historic Centre began its history on the glacial hills that had been intermittently occupied from the Neolithic period; a wooden castle was built around 1000 AD to fortify Gedimino Hill, at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers. The settlement did not develop as a town until the 13th century, during the struggles of the Baltic peoples against their German invaders. By 1323, when the first written reference to Vilnia occurred, it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At this time, some brick structures had apparently been erected on a small island formed when the Vilnia changed its course. By the 15th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, with its capital Vilnius, had become the largest country in Europe, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Black Sea in the South. The historic center comprises the areas of the three castles (Upper, Lower and Curved) and the area that was encircled by a wall in the Middle Ages. The plan is basically circular, radiating out from the original castle site. The street pattern is typically medieval, with small streets dividing it into irregular blocks, but with large squares inserted in later periods.

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Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit UNESCO World Heritage Site

Curonian Spit Overview

From the Curonian Spit World Heritage inscription:

The Curonian Spit is a unique and vulnerable, sandy and wooded cultural landscape on a coastal spit which features small Curonian lagoon settlements. The Spit was formed by the sea, wind and human activity and continues to be shaped by them. Rich with an abundance of unique natural and cultural features, it has retained its social and cultural importance. Local communities adapted to the changes in the natural environment in order to survive. This interaction between humans and nature shaped the Curonian Spit cultural landscape.

The Curonian Spit is perhaps the top natural attraction in Lithuania and one of the top attractions in the Baltic Region. I visited the Curonian Spit on a G Adventures tour of the Baltic States.

Most of the information in this article will pertain to visiting the Lithuanian side of the Curonian Spit, however, half of the spit is shared with Russia. The Lithuanian side is much easier for most tourists to visit unless you have gone through the process of getting a Russian visa. This article will deal mostly with the Lithuanian side.

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Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Great Basin National Park

Overview

Great Basin National Park is one of 60 sites in the United States with a national park designation, and one of 4 National Park Service Sites in Nevada.

Its name is derived from its location in the Great Basin which consists of most of the state of Nevada, western Utah, and parts of southern Oregon.

While not one of the best-known parks in the US, it is one of the better parks, even if it can be somewhat hard to reach.
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2018: A Year in Photography

2018: A Year in Photography

2018 was a pretty busy year for me. I set foot in 24 countries, visited a whopping 42 new UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and over 20 National Park Service Sites in the US.

On the photography front, I was named Photographer of the Year for a fourth time by the Central States chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers, won seven NATJA Awards, and was named Best Travel Photography Blog at the TBCAsia Awards in Sri Lanka.

You can also check out my year-end photo essays for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

As always, I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them!

Image at the top of the page is of the Jungfrau Express, Switzerland.
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Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, World Heritage Site, Spain

Overview

From the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe World Heritage inscription:

The monastery is an outstanding repository of four centuries of Spanish religious architecture. It symbolizes two significant events in world history that occurred in 1492: the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula by the Catholic Kings and Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Its famous statue of the Virgin became a powerful symbol of the Christianization of much of the New World.

The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe is located in the town of Guadalupe in the Spanish Region of Extremadura. It is one of the most important religious destinations in Spain and was a vital place in the history of Spanish exploration and conquest of the Americas, as well as to the political history of Spain.

The site is a popular religious and tourist destination for Spanish tourists, but relatively unknown to international travelers. About 80% of the visitors to the site are from Spain.

Guadalupe is the namesake of many other Guadalupes around the world, mostly in Latin American countries.

The monastery is still an active monastery with monks and daily services, although the number of monks living here is much smaller than what it was in the past.

In 1993 it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the many World Heritage Sites in Spain.
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