The Daydream Series: Norway – Land of the Midnight Sun!

Norway

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Although well known and popular with Europeans, Norway still feels like an off-radar destination for many Americans. Nearly 70 % of Norway is uninhabited, making it an incredible nature playground. Gorgeous views wherever you look! Although winter in Norway might seem dreary, it becomes a true snow-clad paradise. Along the coast, the temperatures usually stay around 32 F. Of course, making it perfect for winter activities. #tourismstrong

Norway is also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun.


Jamaican Flavors

Norway is famous for its fresh, farm to table food approach. Seafood, which is often smoked, is part of many dishes. Dairy products, as well as cheese usually made from goat or sheep milk, are an everyday staple as well.

You can expect a very creative and innovative food culture wherever you go. One particular gem, though, is the historic town of Røros, which sits inland not far from the border to Sweden, about five hours north of Oslo. Founded in 1644, it is home to some of the oldest buildings in Europe and has a fairy tale feel. It is also well known as one of Norway’s leading food regions as everything grows very slowly in Røros, and hence develops a distinctive taste.

Learn how to make a “Beef Tartar with Truffle Cream” with Tareq Taylor, a chef from Sweden who hosts a Nordic Cookery series. In this episode, he prepares the beef tartar in the streets of Røros.

Click here for the full recipe.

Believe it or not, Norway is also home to the world’s largest underwater restaurant! Serving a sustainable menu based on local seafood and forest plants, this is a real bucket list experience in Lindesnes, located on the Southern tip of Norway.


Copy of taste!

Without a doubt, A-HA are Norway’s most famous export. No one else has come close to their fame and status. However, there are plenty of bands, especially of the electronic and pop genre to check out and listen to. Many of the artists sing in English, which makes their music more approachable from an international standpoint.

experience!

You’ll find quite a good selection of movie genres are coming from Norway. Some are quirky, others historical, some are dark, and others heroic.

  • Elling: When his mother, who has sheltered him his entire 40 years, dies, Elling, a sensitive, would-be poet, is sent to live in a state institution. There he meets Kjell Bjarne, a gentle giant and female-obsessed virgin in his 40s.
  • Max Manus Man of War: Max Manus tells a parallel story of Norway’s greatest Second World War hero, a ruthless anti-Nazi whose military skills were learned to fight with the Finns against the Soviet invaders.
  • In Order of Disappearance: Introverted and hard-working snowplow driver Nils has just been named Citizen of The Year, when he receives news that his son has died of a heroin overdose. Disbelieving the official report, he searches to find out the truth.

For those of you who have access to Netflix, there are some Norwegian series you can watch:

Nobel, a series of incidents in Afghanistan, set complicated political and personal events in motion for a returning Norwegian Special Forces officer.

The world is changing, and some might claim headed towards a new Ragnarok, the cataclysmic destruction of the cosmos and everything in it in Norse Mythology. It’s a modern-day interpretation of the story repeating itself, set in a small Norwegian town.

Lilyhammer is the story of a New York mobster going into hiding in the Norwegian town of Lilyhammer.

If you think you might want to visit someday soon, let these clips inspire you!



Read!

If you love reading and are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent books for you!

The Snow Man (Harry Hole Series) by Jo Nesbo

One night, after the first snowfall of the year, a boy named Jonas wakes up and discovers that his mother has disappeared. Only one trace of her remains: a pink scarf, his Christmas gift to her, now worn by the snowman that inexplicably appeared in their yard earlier that day.  Inspector Harry Hole suspects a link between the missing woman and a suspicious letter he’s received. The case deepens when a pattern emerges: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished—all on the day of the first snow. But this is a killer who makes his own rules . . . and he’ll break his pattern just to keep the game interesting, as he draws Harry ever closer into his twisted web. With brilliantly realized characters and hair-raising suspense, international bestselling author Jo Nesbø presents his most chilling case yet—one that will test Harry Hole to the very limits of his sanity. For more…

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Trond’s friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on “borrowed” horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day―an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.

Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer. For more…

The Social Guidebook to Norway – An Illustrated Introduction by Julien S Bourelle

This is your Social Guidebook to Norway. It takes you through an illustrated Norwegian journey. This guidebook is not about typical Norwegian behaviors. It is about behaviors that are peculiar to Norwegians. For more...

A Dolls House by Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen’s seminal play, which changed modern drama, is a searing view of a male-dominated and authoritarian society, presented with a realism that elevates theater to a level above mere entertainment. The reverberations of Nora’s slamming the door as she leaves Torvald continue to this present day. Nicholas Rudall, justly celebrated for his translations of Ibsen, again provides a play of power and speakability. For more…


HappyHour!

Have you heard of Aquavit? Aquavit is distilled from grain or potato and flavored with caraway as the dominant spice. The spirit is truly a Scandinavian favorite, but Norway’s version has a unique twist. While others make an all-clear version, Norway ages theirs in sherry oak casks, that give the liquid a golden color. It also adds a hint of vanilla.

One of Norway’s most famous Aquavits is Linie Aquavit. Linie means “line” and refers to the unique aging process used for this particular brand. The oak barrels are loaded onto ships that cross the equator twice. Rumor has it that this tradition enhances the spirit’s flavor and makes the Aquavit extra smooth due to the barrels continually rolling on the ocean and temperature fluctuations.


Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Portugal – Não éporque uma andorinha morre que acaba a primavera

Portugal (1)

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Portugal has long been a well-kept secret among the Europea countries, but with increased tourism awareness campaigns and publicity, it has become a dream destination for many. A relatively small country, the country is similar in size to Pennsylvania, or three times smaller than the UK. Although seemingly small, the nation is mighty with plenty to offer for those who want to explore. #tourismstrong


Jamaican Flavors

Anthony Bourdain said, “Portugal has got a lot of coastlines and a lot of history with the sea. It’s a close relationship, one that’s imprinted deep into the national character — the songs, the poetry, the state of mind.”

Of course, that also plays a role when it comes to food. Although cuisine varies from region to region, fresh fish and shellfish are found on virtually any menu. “Bacalhau,” dried, salted cod is Portugal’s national dish. Its root stems back to the 16th century when Portuguese sailors salted and sun-dried their catch abroad so it would last throughout the long journey home. There are many different ways to prepare Bacalhau, as the Portuguese say, there is a different way for each day of the year.

Unlike in the US or Great Britain, breakfast traditionally consists of coffee and a bread roll. Lunch, on the other hand, is a real sit down and enjoy affair, often lasting up to two hours. The same goes for dinner. Although you will be able to find an early meal, the Portuguese dine late, after 8 o’clock.

Check out what to expect on a virtual food tour of Lisbon with James and Alice from Devour Tours, a food tour operator in Portugal and Spain.

If you would like to make a Portugese dish at home, why not try a Bifana?


Copy of taste!

Portugal is famous for Fado, soulful, heavily expressive and profoundly melancholic singing, usually accompanied by a guitarist. It is often heard in pubs, cafes, and restaurants. If you find yourself wandering the cobblestone streets of Lisbon’s Bairro Alto area one evening, you are sure to hear some Fado wafting through the air.

Portugal is also home to many other genres and different artists. They are as versatile as the country’s regions and fun to listen to!

Click the picture for our Portugal playlist on Spotify. 

Capture

experience!

There is a good selection of movies set in and around Portugal. Some are harder to get your hands on than others, but they are all worth it if you are interested in the storyline.

Based on a book, Nigth Train to Lisbon is the story of a Swiss Professor, who abandons his lectures and buttoned-down life to embark on a thrilling adventure that will take him on a journey to the very heart of himself.

It’s a very tasteful and intriguing movie about finding oneself, showing great shots of both Lisbon and my hometown, the city of Bern, Switzerland.

Capitaes de Abril explores the days leading up to Lisbon’s Carnation Revolution, a historical moment in the 1970s when a military coup led by Captain Fernando José Salgueiro Maia, ended the dictatorship.

Lisbon Story tells the tale of a sound engineer who obtains a mysterious postcard from a friend who is currently shooting a film in Lisbon, saying that he should visit. He sets out across Europe to find him and help him. This movie is a treat with many great shots from Lisbon, Fado, and a romance.

Voyage to the Beginning of the World, or Viagem ao Princípio do Mundo is the story of an aging film director, who takes a road trip across Portugal with his actors.

Christopher Columbus – The Enigma is a Portuguese movie,  in which a doctor and his wife embark on a journey to prove that explorer Christopher Columbus was Portuguese, not Italian.

Amalia allows you a glimpse into the life of Amalia Rodriguez, who was a pioneer in Fado music. Dubbed Portugal’s “Queen of Fado,” she sold over 30 million records during her life.


Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

The Portugese: The Land and its People by Marion Kaplan

The history of Portugal is long and colorful, with nations such as the Romans and the Moors invading. The Portuguese explorers who brought back many influences to the country and the many rulers whose sagas are rich in intrigue. This book introduces the reader to local crafts and festivals of Portugal; trade, industry, and finance; the family, whose links bind tightly and so influence the country; the geographical land with its beauty – the rivers running from the hills in the east to the sea in the west; the character of the people, attitudes, education; the culture, architecture, paintings and poets and novelists. For more info…

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

An allegorical novel in three parts is set in the fictional High Mountains of 17th-century Portugal and beyond, where characters explore questions of loss and faith while on a quest while tackling ghosts and in the contemporary world. By the award-winning author of Life of Pi. For more info…

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

From supersummary.com: The Book of Disquiet is a journal by Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa. Published by his friends in 1961, it contains Pessoa’s reflections beginning in 1912 at the age of twenty-four as he anticipated World War I. Pessoa wrote the book mainly for himself under the pseudonym Bernardo Soares, and it was not published until nearly half a century after he died in 1935. Though the format of the book is difficult to pin down, it reads like a diary or journal, dealing with the internal life of the seemingly banal “Soares” as he works as a simple assistant to a bookkeeper in Lisbon. The book became known as a great work in the genre of world literature for its simplistic yet poignant characterization of the ordinary life of a lower-class Portuguese person. For more info…

The Year of the Death of Ricard Reis by Jose Saramago

The year: 1936. Europe dances while an invidious dictator establishes himself in Portugal. The city: Lisbon-gray, colorless, chimerical. Ricardo Reis, a doctor and poet, has just come home after sixteen years in Brazil. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero. For more info…

HappyHour!

PORT WINE

Port wine is exclusively produced in Portugal’s north, the Douro valley. The Douro valley is also famous for its wine and makes for a great place to explore if you love culinary vacations.

Port wine is sweet and usually served as a dessert wine or digestif. There are many different versions, including red and white. They all require several years of aging.

If you are interested in trying port and want to learn more, check out Port Wine for Beginners.


This list is compiled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but also as a resource for anyone considering to travel to Portugal, or wanting to get a feel for the country before their trip.

Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Grenada – The Spice Island!

Grenada (1)

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

The Caribbean island of Grenada supplies nearly forty percent of the world’s annual nutmeg crop. Its importance to the island is so great that it has an honored place on the flag. The variety of spices growing on the island is so big that it has earned the name of Spice Island. Grenada consists of the island itself plus six smaller islands located between the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea, North of Trinidad and Tobago. One of the islands, Petite Martinique, is independent and an outpost for the gray- and black market trade.  A modern-day pirate’s island. #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Unlike some other Caribbean islands, Grenada produces many organic fruits and vegetables. The year-round sunshine and fertile soil is fantastic to grow fresh produce, and there is easy access to fresh-caught fish and seafood.

You will find a fantastic selection of traditional recipes to try, ranging from wholesome,  savory dishes to sweet treats.

Explore the island’s culinary aspects with Savor the Spice’s Addie and the 2016 Carnival Queen, Samantha Francis!

Grenada’s most famous dish is Grenadian Oil Down, a melting pot of the island’s cultural history. The hearty stew is made of local veggies, salted meat, and aromatic spice. You might have to travel to Grenada to taste the “real deal,” but Chris from Caribbean Pot has some great tips on how to make it at home.

This is his list of ingredients:

  • 1 medium breadfruit
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 2 scallions
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Saffron (tumeric)
  • black pepper
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 3 pimento peppers (seasoning peppers)
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • 4 green cooking bananas
  • 2 lbs salted pig tail
  • 3 lbs chicken breast
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsely
  • 2 tablespoon chopped shado beni
  • 6 eddoes
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon caribbean green seasoning for the chicken


Copy of taste!

Popular music of Grenada is calypso, soca and, to a lesser extent Reggae and Dancehall. Soca is fast-paced, Caribbean carnival dance music, which makes it extremely hard to sit still in a chair when listening to it. Grenada Soca has a distinct style taking on the name of ‘jab jab’ soca.

Check out some samples from our Grenada playlist!

GrenadaPlaylist


experience!

Island in the Sun, a movie released in 1957, was filmed in Grenada and Barbados. It’s the story of a wealthy landowner’s son fighting for political office against the black leader. The classic movie stars Harry Belafonte, a young Joan Collins, and many others. Have a look at the trailer here:

If you enjoy finding out more about an island before visiting or simply love history, and want to know more about Grenada, make sure to watch this clip. It’s full of interesting information!

Also, check out Pure Grenada’s island brochure.

This clip features two students sharing their experiences in Grenada and the many activities the island has to offer.



Read!

If you love reading and are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent books for you!

Blood of Belvidere by Dunbar Campbell
Grenada is a marriage between stunning Caribbean beauty and historical conflict. Blood of Belvidere takes readers on an unforgettable journey deep into the tropical mystique that attracted international intrigue to her shores for hundreds of years. As a young boy growing up in Grenada, Scott McDonald’s growing pain becomes intertwined with the legacy behind the strange disappearance of a slave-rebellion leader two-hundred years earlier. Secrets and treachery inflict havoc down eight generations of McDonalds, believed to be descendants of the rebel’s archenemy. For more…

Pynter Bender by Jacob Ross
Pynter Bender is a child of the cane fields of Grenada, the second smallest independent state in the world. This extraordinary debut novel tells of a boy born blind but whose eyes are healed, allowing him to see great beauty. The story charts the painful awakening of a rural population, essentially organized around serfdom, into a raw and uncertain future that can only be achieved through fighting—a civil war that Pynter is drawn in to. For more…

Angel by Merle Collins
Chronicling the events that took place in Grenada from 1951—when workers revolted against the white owners of the sugar and cocoa estates—to the U.S. invasion in 1983, the book follows headstrong Angel and her mother Doodsie as they experience the deposition of the old, corrupted leadership with conflicted emotions.  For more…



HappyHour!

Of course, Grenada has its version of a rum punch, which includes a little bit of nutmeg.  I think the nutmeg makes all the difference, but when you ask for it on a different Caribbean island, they just look at you weirdly.

Since we’ve already looked at a Jamaican Rum Punch in the Jamaican Daydream post, we’ll go with Andre Victor’s Spice Seduction cocktail instead.

You will need the following ingredients:

• 2 oz. Dark Rum (preferably Clarke’s Court)
• 1/2 oz De La Grenade Liqueur*
• 1/2 oz Blue Curacao
• 3 oz. orange juice
• Splash of lime juice
• Splash of grenadine syrup
• Shake with ice cubes and serve in a martini glass

Click here for details on how to make it!


Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: New Zealand – Kia Ora!

NewZealand

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

A visit to New Zealand is on top of many bucket lists. Jam-packed with extreme natural beauty, jolly kiwis, and fantastic food and drink, New Zealand impresses at every turn!

Cool cities, vineyards, mountains, rainforest, beautiful beaches, glaciers, and valleys. You can spend weeks and never get bored! #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

New Zealand’s cuisine could be described as Pacific Rim, with influences from Asia, Polynesia, as well as Europe. The abundance of fresh food, as well as the mix of traditional Maori culture with European influences makes for hugely diversified food experience. With the laid-back Kiwi attitude, dining experiences generally have a more casual feel. Picture fresh farm to table food combined with fantastic local wines in a relaxed atmosphere.

Take a little bit of that:

and add a little bit of this:

And you’ll have an better idea of what to expect.

Anxious to try a recipe at home? How about Kiwi Pavlova?

Recipe and video courtesy of Carina. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 1½ Cups | 250g Castor Sugar or Super Fine Sugar
  • 2 tsp Corn Flour | Corn Starch
  • 1 tsp White Vinegar
  • Whipped Cream and Fruit to serve

Instructions:

  • Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer.
  • Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time while the mixer is on high speed until all of the sugar is incorporated. Beat the meringue for a further 5-7 minutes on high speed.
  • Add the cornflour and vinegar and mix for 30 seconds or so until incorporated.
  • Turn the pavlova out on a lined baking sheet and shape it into a 9inch or 23cm disc. Bake in a 130C|260F oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes. When the pavlova has finished baking, cool it in the oven without opening the door for 4-5 hours or overnight.
  • Serve the pavlova topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Watch the video for hands-on instructions:


Copy of taste!

Lorde is likely one of New Zealand’s most successful and popular exports, but there are a lot of different bands and artists, as versatile as the country’s landscape. Check out our playlist and listen to some well-established artists, as well as some new and emerging ones.

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experience!

Whether you want to delve into New Zealand history, escape to a dream world, or drool over beautiful landscapes, here is a selection of six movies to get you started.

  • Whale Rider: Watch 12-year-old Pai, fight against ancient Maori traditions, which prevent females from being clan chiefs.
  • The Piano: Scottish Ada and her daughter are sold into marriage and left with all their belongings, including a piano, on a desolate New Zealand beach. This is a deep and amazing movie, no light feat but utterly rewarding.
  • Bridge to Terabithia: The story of two bullied adolescents that create an imaginary world, Terabithia, which they rule as king and queen.
  • The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey: Bilbo and his hobbit friends are on a quest to reclaim Erebor. Most of the movie is filmed in the hobbit village, which you can visit one hour outside of Auckland.
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople: A boy and his foster father become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness. This is a fun movie!
  • The Insatiable Moon: This 2010 New Zealand drama tells the story of Arthur, a Maori man who sees himself as the second son of a god. He sets off on a mission to find the Queen of Heaven.

If you want to do some daydreaming and possibly plan a visit, check New Zealand’s lovely plea.

This video by Pure New Zealand does a fantastic job capturing New Zealand’s people, their spirit, and the country’s beauty.



Read!

If you love reading and are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent books for you!

A Good Keen Man by Barry Crump
Set against the rugged beauty of the New Zealand backcountry, this is the tale of a young man’s introduction to the art of deer culling and follows the exploits of a good keen man as he learns the skills necessary to become a good bushman. For more…

Pounanu Pounanu by Witi Ihimaera

A collection of original stories that showed how crucial Maori identity is for all New Zealanders. For more…

The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King
New Zealand was the last country in the world to be discovered and settled by humankind. It was also the first to introduce full democracy. Between those events, and in the century that followed, the movements and conflicts of human history have been played out more intensively and more rapidly in New Zealand than anywhere else on Earth.

The Penguin History of New Zealand tells that story in all its color and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonizing New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a ‘fatal impact’, coped heroically with colonization and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer. For more… 

A Kiwi Year: Twelve Months in the Life of New Zealand Kids by Tania Mccartney
A multicultural blend of culture and race that typifies our amazing country. They’ll take you through a year in the life of New Zealand’s kids, from celebrations, traditions, and events, to our everyday way of life and the little things that make childhood so memorable. For more…

Do They Speak English Down There? by Susan Tunney
Read how one family transformed fantasy into reality when they traded in their San Diego lifestyle to move to rural New Zealand along with the challenges it presented, adapting to a new culture. From duct tape to #8 wire, its been one helluva journey. For more…

Squashed Possums: Off the Beaten Track in New Zealand by Jonathan Tindale
Ten years after returning from the New Zealand outback, Jon receives a mysterious manuscript in the post. Narrated by Jon’s former home, the lone caravan, Squashed Possums, reveals what it’s like to live in the wild through four seasons, including New Zealand’s coldest winter in decades. For more…



HappyHour!

Since New Zealand is home to many excellent vineyards, how about a wine tasting?

75 % of all grapes harvested are picked on the South Island in the Marlborough region. Hawke’s Bay is located on the North Island, South of Auckland, and makes up for 12 % of the harvest.

The majority of the wines are white, so why not compare a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, with one from Hawke’s Bay?

 


Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Ireland – The Emerald Isle!

Ireland (1)

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Ireland is likely one of the most loved and cherished European countries, particularly by Americans. This post celebrates a nation with plenty of history, heart, culture, and passion!  #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Irish food needs no introduction! Meat, potato, milk, and dairy have shaped Ireland’s food culture since the middle ages. Surrounded by the sea with many rivers and lakes, seafood naturally plays an important role as well. Today, Ireland has a thriving food scene, which combines the traditional with a more modern approach.

Galway hosts the Irish food festival each year, celebrating the areas rich culinary landscape and is also home to some incredible food tour operators. I particularly enjoy working with Padraic when creating itineraries around Galway. He takes clients to the Aran Islands, or all across Connemara for food as well as pub tours.

Another fantastic area for foodies is the Coastal Causeway in Northern Ireland. At AAV Travel,  we love it when females take action and happily send our clients to explore the region with Portia, the founder of Toast to Coast food tours.

There are, of course, many reasons to visit Ireland, but you wish, you can make your visit all about food and drink.

Are you ready to try a winter recipe at home?

Irish Leek & Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil or butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 3 large leeks trimmed, sliced, thoroughly rinsed, and dried
  • 3 spuds diced (russet potatoes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 liters of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Easy to follow instructions, courtesy of the Happy Pear and Melanie Murphy.


Copy of taste!

Irish music is as varied as Ireland’s weather. From rock to traditional folk music, there is something for everyone. Our playlist highlights many of the country’s favorites, but there are more, so many more.

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experience!

Whether you want to delve into Ireland’s history, enjoy some Irish music, or drool over the gorgeous landscapes, there are many movies to pick from. Here is a selection of six to get you started.

  • Michael Collins: The story of Michael Collins and the Irish Republican Army fighting for Ireland’s independence from the British.
  • The Quiet Man: Irish-American boxer John Wayne, accidentally kills a man in the ring and returns to the Irish village where he was born. Hoping for a tranquil life, Wayne purchases a home that is also coveted by pugnacious squire Victor McLaglen. This 1952 movie is set in the village of Cong in the west of Ireland.
  • Angela’s Ashes: Angela’s Ashes follows the experiences of young Frankie and his family as they try against all the odds to escape the poverty endemic in the slums of pre-war Limerick.
  • P.S. I love you: Although sad at times, it is a romantic comedy. A grieving widow follows a series of tasks to be revealed in ten monthly messages left by her husband and designed to help her overcome her sorrow while gradually making the transition into a new life.
  • The Commitments: Jimmy Rabbitte, a self-proclaimed promoter, decides to organize an R&B group to fill the musical void in his hometown of Dublin. The band comes together but consists entirely of white musicians who have little experience with R&B.
  • The Secret of Roan Inish: Ten-year-old Fiona is sent to Donegal to live with her grandparents. On the nearby island of Roan Inish, she spies a wild child. Fiona believes that the child is her long-lost brother, who mysteriously disappeared when his cradle floated out on the tide.

If you want to do some daydreaming and possibly plan a visit, check out this clip about the rugged West Coast.

If you are interested in Dublin, check out N.Y. Times’ 36 Hours in Dublin clip!

Although Ireland appears small in size, it is one of the most varied countries. This clip takes you across the island to explore some of the most stunning landscapes.

 



Read!

If you love reading and are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent books for you!

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
TV comedian Tony Hawks tries to win a bet by hitchhiking around the circumference of Ireland in one calendar month, with a fridge. This is the story of Tony’s adventures—the people he meets, the difficulties, the triumphs, and that fridge. For more…

The Pope’s Children by David McWilliams

This is the special generation, the Irish baby boom of the 1970s that peaked nine months to the day after the Pope’s visit. There are 620,000 of them, squeezed into the middle and lifted up by the Expectocracy. Ireland is blurring. Out of this haze has come the Full-on Nation, the most hedonistic generation ever.

David McWilliams’ brilliant research and analysis of Ireland is a celebration of success. In an easy-to-read style, he takes us to Deckland, that suburban state of mind where you will find the Kells Angels, Breakfast Roll Man, Low GI Jane, and RoboPaddy. Come face to face with the You’re a Star generation, Billy Bunker, fair-trade Frank, Carrot Juice Contrarians, and Bouncy Castle Brendan. We also meet the HiCos, Hibernian Cosmopolitans, the new elite whose distance from Deckland is measured by appreciations and cultivations that Deckland’s rampant credit just can’t buy.

Entertaining and informative, The Pope’s Children told of the vast surge of ambition, money, optimism, and hope in Ireland during the boom. For more…

The Treasury of Irish Folklore by Padraic Colum
Everything from Irish myths, superstitions, and even songs of Ireland, are included. From blessings to spells, this book is chocked full of info, ready for you to crack the cover. For more…

Poems by Seamus Heaney
This critically-acclaimed body of work brings together roughly 100 poems culled by Seamus Heaney from nine of his collections. For more…

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more. For more…



HappyHour!

If you watched the 36 Hours in Dublin clip above, you know that the Guinness Brewery’ is one of Ireland’s most visited attractions.

If you have never tasted one before, this might be the moment to try one. Or, if you want to check out one of Ireland’s most popular shots, try a Baby Guinness.

Ingredients:

  • Coffee Liquor
  • Irish Cream


Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Hawai’i – Aloha!

Hawaii

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Aloha melts love, compassion, kindness, and grace into one welcome!  This post is dedicated to the island nation with the most isolated population center in the world, its people, and their Aloha spirit.  #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Given Hawai’i’s long history and influences its food traditions and cuisines are plentiful. Thanks to the abundance of seafood as well as fertile soil, the island nation provides plenty of fresh food options. From fine dining to typical Hawai’ian eateries, there is something for everyone.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food is a local, no-frills, homestyle eaterie, located in Honolulu. Check out Elaine Katuyoshi, talking about Hawai’ian food traditions and how they are to be enjoyed.

An authentic and easy dish to make at home is HAUPIA. The Hawai’ian coconut pudding is a popular dessert staple at Luau’s and can easily be made at home!

Ingredients:

  • One can of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of  sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch

For instructions, check out TabiEats’ video!


Copy of taste!

The idea of Hawaiian music immediately conjures the sounds of paradise. Beautiful, dreamy music that sways you, just like a palm tree in the wind or gently lapping waves. Listening to it instantly transports you to a different world.

Have a listen to our playlist, or check out the Kapa Radio’s live stream for an even more authentic experience.

hawaii playlist aavexperience



experience!

Hawai’i’s incredible landscape makes the perfect backdrop for many movies as well as tv series. Ka’a’awa Valley on O’ahu is the set for over 50 movies, from Jurassic Park to Godzilla, and the series Lost.

If you are up for some aloha spirit, we suggest checking out these movies and shows. They all feature beautiful landscapes and conjure a feel for the islands.

  • The Descendants: The sometimes humorous and sometimes tragic journey for Matt King, an indifferent husband, and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The movie is set in O’ahu as well as Kaua’i.
  • Soul Surfer:  Bethany Hamilton’s story as a surfer and her recovery after a horrific shark attack. The North Shores of both O’ahu and Kaua’i, famous for their big wave surfing, make for spectacular backdrops.
  • Aloha: Dubbed a romantic film comedy, this movie has a very attractive cast and much less drama than one might expect. Although seemingly light, it goes much deeper. Set on O’ahu, it features gorgeous scenery and captures the island’s spirit.
  • Blue Hawaii: This classic musical comedy features Elvis, charming his way through the beautiful islands of Hawai’i. The main filming location is O’ahu, but you’ll also see a few shots from Kaua’i.
  • Hawai’i Five-O: Whether you enjoy the original series or the newer version, Hawai’i Five-O will take you on a whirlwind of spectacular island locations.
  • Magnum PI: Experience 80ies O’ahu with this classic detective series.

If you want to do some daydreaming and possibly plan a visit, start with National Geographic’s top ten highlights.

Many of our clients wish to skip O’ahu or spend just a day to visit Pearl Harbor. This NY Times – “36 Hours in Honolulu” clip will give you a lovely feel for Honolulu, but also for some other things to do on the island (there are many more). Plus, it features one of my favorite hotels.

One of our older posts highlights the different features each island has and allows you to choose the right island according to your interests.



Read!

If you love reading and are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent books for you!

Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Beckwith
Ku and Hina-man and woman-were the great ancestral gods of heaven and earth for the ancientHawaiians. They were life’s fruitfulness and all the generations of mankind, both those who are to come and those already born.

The Hawaiian gods were like great chiefs from far lands who visited among the people, entering their daily lives sometimes as humans or animals, sometimes taking residence in a stone or wooden idol. As years passed, the families of gods grew and included the trickster Maui, who snared the sun, and fiery Pele of the volcano. For more…

Hawaiian Antiquities by David Malo
Born in 1795 and raised among chiefs, priests, artisans, and scholars in the court of Kamehameha I, David Malo provides an important and authentic source on the ancient beliefs and practices of Hawaiians. Malo was among the first Hawaiians to study reading and writing with the missionaries. For more…

Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance. For more…

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
Seven-year-old Rachel is forcibly removed from her family’s 1890s Honolulu home when she contracts leprosy and is placed in a settlement, where she loses a series of new friends before new medical discoveries enable her to reenter the world. For more…

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
Beginning with the fateful meeting of a nineteenth-century Yankee sailor and the runaway daughter of a Tahitian chief, and sweeping over a century and a half of passionate, turbulent Hawaiian history, Shark Dialogues takes its place as the first novel to do justice to the rich heritage and cruel conflicts of the beautiful and beleaguered islands and their people. At its center are Pono, the magnificent pure-blooded matriarch and seer, and her four mixed-blood granddaughters seeking to come to terms with the contradictions of their ancestries and the hungers of their hearts. For more…



HappyHour!

The Mai Tai is Hawai’i’s most famous Tiki drink. It’s the islands’ version of a rum punch and each year, Hawai’i Magazin’s Reader’s Choice Best of the Best, awards five bars for being the best places to sip a Mai Tai.

Duke’s Waikiki is one of those bars, and Matthew shares his recipe and explains, how to make the fruity drink.

Ingredients:

  • 0.4 oz Orgeat Syrup
  • 0.5 oz Orange Curacao
  • 0.5 oz Gold Rum
  • 3 oz freshly squeezed POGG juice (pineapple, passion, orange, and guava)
  • 1.25 oz Dark Rum
  • Garnish with a pineapple and parasol


Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Iceland – þetta reddast!

Iceland

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Iceland is truly unique! Home to 130 volcanos, about 30 of which are still active, this post is dedicated to the coolest nation of them all! #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Icelandic food is, well, let’s say interesting. Once you’ve visited, it is easier to understand. Iceland has a very drastic climate including the lack of sunlight at times. Not much grows naturally, and fishing and hunting options are limited. Plus, its location under the Arctic Circle didn’t make it any easier to import goods and food, in the past. However, the country has evolved and its use of geothermal energy today, allows Iceland to grow fresh produce. Nowadays, you can find quite an array of food, ranging from more traditional Icelandic dishes to international cuisine. However, fish is an intricate piece of the country’s food culture.

If you would like to try a traditional Icelandic dish at home, we suggest trying out Iceland Food Center’s PLOKKFISKUR.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr pollock, haddock, cod or any other white fish
  • 500gr potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 2 small, or 3 even smaller)
  • 50gr butter
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 300ml milk (or more if you prefer it thinner)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp white pepper.

For a dairy-free version substitute butter with olive oil and milk with oat milk (or other non-dairy alternatives).

Description:

  • Boil and peel potatoes.
  • Poach your white fish according to instructions.
  • Put aside.
  • Sautée onions in butter at medium heat until translucent.
  • Add flour to the butter and onions and whisk until it becomes a paste.
  • Whisk in milk – a ladle at a time until it’s a thick sauce.
  • Congratulations you made bechamel!
  • Break up the potatoes and fish and add it to the mixture.
  • If you’ve used up all the bechamel and you feel it’s still too thick you can add milk or the poaching water to thin it out.
  • Season to taste!

Copy of taste!

Iceland’s sound is unique. You can feel its landscape, atmosphere, and moods, in many songs. It is not always easy listening, but you will be hard-pressed finding another country that produces music with so much authenticity and personality.  What strikes me the most, is how different it sounds, once you had an opportunity to visit. It’s almost like all of a sudden, you understand where it is coming from and why it is represented like that.

Click the picture for our sample playlist on Spotify. 

iceland



experience!

Iceland’s film industry developed slowly in comparison to other Nordic countries until the establishment of the Icelandic Film Fund (IFF) in 1978. The fund helped the local film industry grow and these days, we have quite a selection of movies that share the country’s unique humor, landscapes, atmosphere, as well as way of life.

  • Rams: An Icelandic farmer (Theodór Júlíusson) and his estranged brother (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) band together to save their flocks of sheep from authorities who want the animals destroyed.
  • Of Horses and Men: Set amidst the majestic splendor of the Icelandic countryside, Icelandic writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson interweaves a series of tales about horse-owners and their steeds.
  • 101 Reykjavik: The story of unemployed and unmotivated Hlynur (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) and Lola (Victoria Abril), a flamenco teacher.
  • Children of Nature: A retired farmer, Thorgeir (Gisli Halldorsson) moves to Reykjavik, and winds up in a retirement home, where he reconnects with Stella (Sigridur Hagalin), an old friend from his childhood.
  • Cold Fever: A Japanese man (Masatoshi Nagase) finds misadventure and eccentric characters while in Iceland to perform a memorial service for his parents.
  • Screaming Masterpiece: Screaming Masterpiece is a 2005 documentary film about the music scene in Iceland.

If you’d like to get an idea of what to expect, have a look at Lonely Planet’s presentation.

And for additional impressions, a video created by Iceland Travel, one of our onsite partners.

Here are also a couple of clips from my winter trip to Iceland.

View this post on Instagram

Winter is coming! Iceland 🇮🇸 might not be the escape that comes to mind, but it for sure is worth a visit. Amazing light, drastic landscapes with frozen formations, and of course, the best season to see the Northern Lights. It’s also an awesome time for adventure experiences like the one I had the chance to join last January. The Super Jeep Tour with @activityiceland venturing into the unspoiled Thorsmork valley during these icy ❄️ conditions. You are almost guaranteed to get stuck somewhere, so for safety reasons, there are always at least two vehicles. Quite a thrill! #iceland #icelandtravel #valleyofthor #thorsmork #aavexperience #aavtravel #winteriscoming #gameofthrones #thewall #luxurytravel #adventuretravel #bucketlist #offthebeatenpath

A post shared by Stefanie Pichonnat (@aavtravel) on



Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

The Sagas of Icelanders by several authors: In Iceland, the age of the Vikings is also known as the Saga Age. Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled in Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured farther west to Greenland and, ultimately, North America. For more…

The Little Book of Icelanders in the Old Days by Alda Sigmundsdottir: Iceland in centuries past was a formidable place to live. Situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the edge of the inhabitable world, the nation was both isolated and abjectly poor. Centuries of colonization translated into oppression and subjugation from the colonial overlords, and a hostile climate and repeated natural disasters meant that mere survival was a challenge to even the hardiest of souls. In these 50 miniature essays, Alda Sigmundsdottir writes about the Icelanders in centuries past in a light and humorous way, yet never without admiration and respect for the resilience and strength, they showed in coping with conditions of adversity that are barely imaginable today. For more…

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss: Sarah Moss had a childhood dream of moving to Iceland, sustained by a wild summer there when she was nineteen. In 2009, she saw an advertisement for a job at the University of Iceland and applied on a whim, despite having two young children and a comfortable life in Kent. The resulting adventure was shaped by Iceland’s economic collapse, which halved the value of her salary, by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull and by a collection of new friends, including a poet who saw the only bombs fall on Iceland in 1943, a woman who speaks to elves and a chef who guided Sarah’s family around the intricacies of Icelandic cuisine. Read more… 

The Fish can Sing by Halldor Laxness: Alfgrim was an abandoned child whose mother gave birth to him in the turf cottage of Bjorn of Brekkukot, the fisherman, on the outskirts of Reykjavik. This is the tale of Alfgrim’s boyhood and youth in the home of his grandparents in the early years of the twentieth century. It is a hospitable place, where dignified understatement is the norm and everything from a lumpfish to a Bible has a fixed price that never changes. For more…


HappyHour!

Brennivín (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈprɛnːɪvin]) is a clear, unsweetened schnapps that is considered to be Iceland’s signature distilled beverage. It might be hard to find in the US, but you can always ask your local liquor store to see if they have an option to order it for you.

ARCTIC SOLSTICE – Created in 2014 by Villi K. of B5 Lounge in Reykjavik

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Brennivín
  • 1 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice

Method: Shake with ice and then strain it. Use a Collins glass and top with soda water to fill the glass. Add a mint sprig and a slice of grapefruit to garnish.

Skál! Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Italy – Dolce Far Niente!

Copy of DaydreamJAMAICA

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Italy is one of the most loved destinations in Europe! This post is a celebration of the country that invented “Dolce Far Niente,” its amazing people, as well as our Italian friends and industry partners. #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

As the late Anthony Bourdain said: ‘Italian food at its best is like Japanese food, but with more emotion. ‘ 

Italy’s food needs no introduction as most every country has their own Italian restaurant or a version thereof. If you’ve been to Italy, you know that there are many different variations of pasta, sauces, flavors, cured meats. Every region seems to have its own specialty. For food lovers, Emilia Romagna provides some of the most exciting options as this small region is home to Bologna, Modena, and Parma.

In our family, we enjoy many different pasta sauces. One of our favorites is “Carbonara.” Technically a very easy, quick, and straight forward recipe, requiring only a handful of ingredients. All you need are spaghetti, a slab of bacon (slices work too), olive oil, eggs, pepper, and parmesan or pecorino cheese (freshly grated, please). You don’t need to add salt because the bacon is flavorful enough. However, don’t forget to salt the water!

Other than that, Antonio does an excellent job of explaining how to prepare true Spaghetti Carbonara.

Click here for more Italian Cooking Lessons you can watch online.


Copy of taste!

Picture yourself cruising in through Tuscany in a convertible, or along a rocky coastline in a Fiat 500.

Fiat

Italian tunes are bound to make you happy and give you a good feel for the language as well as the smoky voices of many of its most famous artists. Some of them are deeply engraved into my memory, taking me straight back to 80ies Italy, spending family vacations along the beach in Pescara. Or watching one of the classic Adriano Celentano movies, which were always a blast.

Click the picture for our sample playlist on Spotify. 

Italy



experience!

There are so many great movies to watch when it comes to Italy.

If you want to get a feel for Italian filmmaking, you cannot skip Federico Fellini, who is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. ‘Life is a combination of magic and pasta.’ A quote of his is one of my favorites.

There is quite a bit of selection for movies with a lot of Italian scenery.

 

Much of The Tourist is set in Venice, whereas Under the Tuscan Sun is filmed in the beautiful town of Cortona, Tuscany, as well as the Umbria region, which is home to Lake Trasimeno. Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie, Stealing Beauty, is set in one of Tuscany’s beautiful villa with many beautiful shots of the fantastic scenery.

Of course, there are many more movies. Please be aware that many of them are Rated R and not necessarily suitable for the younger generation.

I returned from Milan earlier this year, where I met with hoteliers and tour operators of many regions, including two emerging ones, Basilicata and Sicily. Both are incredibly beautiful and still relatively untouched. I’ll be eager to share more information with my clients that have already explored much of Italy before. Oh, and if you were wondering, the 2020 Italian Capital of Culture is Parma.

Plus, here is a nice overview of the many different experiences, Italy offers.



Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

The Enchanted April  by Elizabeth von Arnim

Four very different women, looking to escape dreary London for the sunshine of Italy, take up an offer advertised in the Times for a “small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April.” As each person blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring, quite unexpected changes occur. For more.

Italian for the Gourmet Traveler by Fred Plotkin

In recent years, dozens of cookbooks have explored Italian regional cookery and captured the flavors of Tuscany, Emila-Romangna, the Veneto, and Sicily, among other places. But for Fred Plotkin, who has spent the last two decades scouring Italy from tip to toe in search of memorable food, nothing can compare to the herb-perfumed cuisine of Liguria, the Italian Riviera. Now in the first-ever cookbook devoted to this region, Plotkin offers definitive proof that Ligurian food is not only the tastiest in Italy but the healthiest as well — the ultimate Mediterranean diet. From pesto and focaccia, the regions best-known specialties, to more unusual dishes such as fava bean soup, pumpkin-filled pasta topped with tuna caviar, braised duck with green olives, and a cherry tart Genovese, Plotkin shows how to re-create more than 200 authentic Ligurian dishes — and enjoy a true taste of paradise. For more. 

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization, the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth, the long-forgotten Illuminati lair. For more. 

The House of the Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hippert

At its height, Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power, and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family’s huge influence on the political, economic, and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florence’s slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line. For more. 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. For more. 

 


HappyHour!

How about a classic Italian pre-dinner drink this time?

NEGRONI

Negroni is a highly popular Italian drink, considered a pre-dinner drink. It is very straight forward to make. Don’t forget, it’s stirred, not shaken.

  • 1/3 Vermouth Rosso
  • 1/3 Bitter Campari
  • 1/3 Dry Gin.

Preparation: Served on the rocks, you need to use a medium tumbler or an old-fashioned glass, stir the ingredients directly in your glass and garnish with a half slice of orange and lemon peel.

 


This list is compiled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but also as a resource for anyone considering to travel to Italy, or wanting to get a feel for the country before their trip.

Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Jamaica – One Love!

Dessert Adventure Blog Banner

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Jamaica is a popular travel destination for March. This post is dedicated to the island of “One Love,” its people, and those that have had to reschedule their trip. #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Jamaica’s food is known across the world for its freshness and exotic flavors. Jerk chicken, likely being the country’s most famous export! If you’ve never had a chance to stop by Scotchie’s, you will want to put it on your list.

Although jerk varieties are plenty, we are in love with the patties!

Inspired by the British Cornish pastry, which typically is filled with meat and potato, the Jamaican patty has become its own delicacy. They make a great snack to pick up while on vacation but are also an excellent addition to your weekly lunch. Not to mention you can make several, so that you can freeze and reheat them at your convenience.

There are many recipes for beef and chicken patties out there. However, we opted to share a Rastafarian version, which is not only vegetarian but also vegan. Not to mention, super yummy!

Check out Our Green Planet’s recipe and let us know how you like it once you make it!


Copy of taste!

Music and Jamaica go hand in hand. You will be hard-pressed, not to come across a Jamaican that is either humming a tune or moving to the rhythm. Everyone knows Bob Marley and hearing his songs while in Jamaica is a guarantee. Jamaica, however, also has some incredible new talent, and if you want to get a better feel for what Jamaicans listen to these days, check out our Playlist on Spotify. It will take you straight to the Caribbean island!

aavtravelJamaica



experience!

When you can’t travel, movies and videos are a great option to get the daydreaming started. Jamaica has a few great options to consider!

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series, owned a house in Jamaica, and it comes to no surprise that his sixth novel, Dr. No is set on the beautiful island. Dr. No is interesting for several reasons, including the fact that it is the very first James Bond movie and introducing Sean Connery as the first James Bond. Of course, there is also some amazing Jamaican scenery.

If you are a James Bond fan in general and want to know more about the significant Jamaican movie locations check out Carib Journal’s post. 

The Port Antonio area provides most of the settings for the movie Cocktail as well as Knight and Day, which takes you to Frenchman’s Cove.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea features Negril and its cliff area, whereas How Stella got her Groove Back was filmed at the Roundhouse Villas, in Montego Bay.

If you just want to get a little feel for the island, have a look at this clip!



Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys’s reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Set in the Caribbean, its heroine is Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Rochester. In this best-selling novel, Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind. For more.

The Harder they Come by Michael Thelwell

Like the acclaimed film of the same title, this lyrical, lilting, densely textured novel is based on the exploits of the legendary Jamaican folk hero and reggae star Rhygin. With passion and precision, Michael Thelwell recounts Rhygin’s journey from a morally coherent rural universe to the teeming, predatory slums of Kingston, his rebellion against the poverty and corruption of postcolonial Jamaica, his blazing, simultaneous rise to the top of the charts and the Most Wanted list. For More.

A Brief History o Seven Killings by Marlon James

In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivaled skills of characterization and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins’ fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated.

A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents,  even ghosts – over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.

Gripping and inventive, shocking and irresistible, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a mesmerizing modern classic of power, mystery, and insight. For more.


HappyHour!

JAMAICAN RUM PUNCH

The Jamaican Rum Punch is a staple at many bars. Often you receive a pre-mixed version. However, if you are one for craft drinks and would like to make yours from scratch, check out Calvin’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Pimento
  • Rosemarie
  • ½ White Rum
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 3 oz of Ting or Grapefruit Soda
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters
  • ½ teaspoon of Strawberry Syrup

Directions: 


This list is compiled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but also as a resource for anyone considering to travel to Jamaica, or wanting to get a feel for the island before their trip.

Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Twelve Days of National #PlanForVacation Day 2019

Every year more than 52% of Americans fail to use all their time off, creating a stockpile of 705 million unused vacation days in 2018! It is a mistery to us how people can let their vacation days to go to waste. Yes, here at AAV Travel we are all about taking trips abroad. However, no trip is too small. We strongly encourage you to use your vacation days! There are so many beautiful places to see and experience everywhere.

In 2019, the US Travel Association has made it once again their mission to encourage people to plan their vacation, so fewer days go unused in the future. By celebrating January 29, 2019, as the National Plan for Vacation Day, they want to encourage Americans to take their well-deserved time off. We want to take it a step further and give you some ideas!

We want to give you ideas and encourage you to plan a vacation. That is why we decided to create the Twelve Days of National #PlanForVacation Day. For the next twelve days, we’ll be populating this blog post with one destination highlight each day.

For the First Day, leading up to January 29, we will be traveling across the globe to Australia’s Northern Territory, the South part of it to be precise!

In addition, here are three tips to help you get started with your vacation planning:

npvd_3-tips

Let us know if and how you will be using your vacation days; we’d love to hear from you!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel

Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com.