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Our Travel Evolution – From Naïveté to Confidence

Streets and Eats – Episode 1
Learning to travel and loving how you do it takes some time and experience. We take you from our naive beginnings to traveling 90 countries together and becoming travel experts.

 

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Streets and Eats – Show Notes for Episode 001

Our Travel Evolution – How We Learned to Travel

Just like anything worth doing in life, you need to learn how to travel. Throughout our 30-some years together, Jim and I have changed up the way we travel numerous times. Partly because of the stage of life we were in at the moment, and partly just because the more you do something, the better you get at it. 

Our Humble Beginnings – Birth of our Travel Evolution

Neither Jim nor I came from well-to-do families, so traveling with our families as kids is much different than we travel now. However, we did use some of that knowledge as we took our own journeys.

Corinne’s Background

I was born into a military family. Born in Ankara, Turkey, my mom met and married my dad there. He was in the Air Force and she taught the children of the men stationed overseas. We did travel as a family, and before I was out on my own, I’d been to several European countries and lived in two of them. I was the oldest of five children, however, so with such a large family we never took even close to a luxury vacation. It was always fun but frugal.

Jim’s Background

Jim also came from a very large family. He is the seventh child of eight, and his father worked for the telephone company. They moved a few times to different states, but mostly if there was any travel, it was camping.

Both of us knew that traveling could be expensive, and one way to do it easily and cheaply was to join the military. This we both did and then we met and married when we were both stationed in Germany. We soon added to our family. We had two daughters and we still traveled with them to as many places as possible. 

Corinne and Jim before they were married traveling with the Air Force to Orange, France.

Corinne and Jim met and married after this trip to southern France.

The Travel Safety Zones- Concentric Circles of Travel Evolution

Just like when we were growing up, first we felt comfortable traveling where we were. You could almost say “in our backyard.” However, as Americans our backyard was the country of Germany. So we started off doing skiing trips and short road trips around Germany, and then expanded our circle by including France, Luxembourg, and Belgium.

As we are doing so, we also expanded what we might eat, but to be honest that took a bit longer and we’ll have the full story in our next episode where we talk about becoming a foodie. For this show, we stick to some anecdotes that just show you over and over again what noobs we were, and some of the stories are a bit embarrassing to say the least. Our first is when we have a run-in with a German wurst (the second time around I think we conquered wurst), and then to make things worse we act like total idiots when we’re in the Czech Republic and trying a coffee. Learning life lessons can be cruel sometimes.

How We Expanded Traveling Across Borders in Europe

  1. We took easy road trips near where we lived, like to Trier – the oldest city in Germany. It was only ten minutes from our first place together.
  2. We took bus tours that picked us up, planned and ran everything in between, and then dropped us off at the end. We reminisce on our innocence as we took our very first one to Copenhagen and found out how much the Danes love fish.
  3. We took longer and longer road trips, but still in Europe and still using a military lodging much of the time, which meant a lot of our trips included those military sights, like Tempelhof or Berchtesgaden.
  4. We finally got more comfortable and either flew to a destination or did a full on road trip. Much of the time, we’ll take flight and rent a car once we get to our destination to save time.
  5. After conquering Western Europe, we moved to Japan and then Korea for a bunch of years and started exploring that part of the world. There we had to fly to our destinations.
  6. Moving back to Europe, we tackled a little of Africa, and all of Eastern Europe as well.
  7. Nowadays, we drive or fly to a destination. They we usually will rent a car or do the things we want to do. We camp or stay in great hotels. We eat local foods, and we’ve never had so much fun. 
Devon and Erika get all dressed up Dutch style in the Netherlands.

We got our daughters, Devon and Erika, all dressed up Dutch style in the Netherlands on one trip long ago.

Big Travel Tips from This Episode – Travel Evolution

  • Don’t be too hung up about what anyone else is doing. Learning to travel the way you like to travel is a journey. Enjoy the ride.
  • Plan but don’t over-plan. Be open to some spontaneity and open to suggestions from the locals about everything from food to what to do

Conclusion

Learning to travel is personal. Some people love to take cruises and bus tours, where the work is all done for you. And some people like to do it on their own. That’s us. We’ve learned a lot over the years, and I’m sure we’ll continue to learn more and more. 

Let us know some of the tips you’ve learned about traveling from your experiences.

Streets and Eats, a fantastic Facebook group and online community.

 

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Complete Transcript of Podcast

01- Travel Evolution Transcript

Jim  

Welcome to “Streets and Eats” the podcast where we want to inspire your next trip by telling you about some fantastic destinations and the best food to eat while you’re there. In this episode, we’re going to give you a bit of our backstory and a look into how our travel evolution took place.

Corinne  

You wouldn’t believe it, but how you travel changes throughout your life, just like many other things. To begin with, we didn’t start out in the United States, Jim and I met and married in Germany when we were both in the Air Force. 

So we had a little bit of a different background growing up. And all of that comes into play as we started to meld our ideas of what travel was. For me, I was a military brat. I grew up all over the world, and lived in places like Turkey and England, and all over the United States. 

And my parents were frugal, they didn’t have a whole lot of money as an NCO, noncommissioned officer, raising five kids. So what they did was they picked Howard Johnson’s hotels to stay in. Everybody had spaghetti for dinner. We’d go swimming in the pool and go to bed, as we road-tripped across the states to see family here and there. It was a great way to grow up. But Jim will tell you about his background as well.

Jim  

Yeah, so I guess in some ways, it was a little bit similar. We often did road trips, camping, and things like that. But we didn’t really move around the States that much as I was growing up. I did move a few times. But the real constant, as far as travel goes, was the road trip. 

Getting out camping, exploring new places, by road, visiting family, of course. And that was really about it until I joined the Air Force. And then it was more about traveling around the world. And that’s really why I joined the Air Force so that I could get out and travel the world. So with the Air Force, I got to go to places like Japan, England, and even Africa. 

So that was a really cool experience. But I didn’t really know how to travel. And I was really limited because I was going with the military. And so our opportunity to get away and to do things on our own was severely limited. 

And then I moved to Germany, and we met and married in Germany. Of course, even then we were still very young. We were both in our early 20s. So to think that we were worldly, which I’m sure at the time we did is a little bit ridiculous. But you know, as with anything, you have to progress, you have to have that evolution.

Corinne  

We became more worldly with time, we were only married a little while before we had our first daughter. And then our second daughter came soon after that. So we were a family of four traipsing around first Germany and then further afield. As a matter of fact, you can kind of look at our progression as almost like concentric circles from our home point in Germany and out.

That’s just our beginning. And then we started into our very first sort of foray into traveling the world together. And we took the bus trip to Copenhagen.

Jim  

Yeah. So you’re talking about those concentric circles, right? We started out, not really being able to go out independently because we didn’t really know what we were doing, to say the least. 

So one of the things that we had available to us at the time in Europe, in Germany, was these bus tours, that would, you know, every Friday afternoon, you’d climb on a bus after work, and it would whisk you off to the new and exciting destination. At least as they say new and exciting at the time. So one of our first trips together was on a bus to Copenhagen. I think it was right?

Corinne  

Copenhagen, Denmark, I can remember it was Presidents Day weekend.

Jim  

That’s right. And the only reason why I was going on this trip was that current had initially signed up for it. And we were a new couple. We were a new couple.

Corinne  

We weren’t even a couple yet at that time.

Jim  

Yeah, that’s true. We became a couple. We were friends during the trip. Really? Yeah. But you know, she was this really popular girl at work and everybody was always kind of sniffing around if you want to put it that way. She had many suitors let’s put it that way. So she quickly latched on to me and said, “You’re going on this trip with me.” 

And so, Okay, here we go. That was the start of a sort of a long journey. Strange trip. Yeah. So, you know, you talk about your travel progression at that point, it was like, here’s the bus tour. This is where the bus tour is taking you. For the most part, you’re going to eat the food at the restaurants where they take you. And that’s safe travel. It’s easy to travel, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Corinne  

And they’re still gonna be good travel today.

Jim  

Yeah, do you still have those options?

Corinne  

Yeah, I mean, you can take a bus tour to any European city or anywhere in the States. And there are tons of tour companies that are going to take you out, they’re going to do all the hard work for you. 

And there’s something to be said about not having to worry about, other than catching the bus, as you said, other than you know where you’re going to eat or what you’re going to eat or what you’re going to do while you’re there. It’s all taken care of, where are you going to go the bathroom, everything. You don’t have to worry about anything.

Jim  

Right.

Corinne  

And we still have done smatterings of that throughout our travels, just because there are some things you can’t not take a tour to. Or it’s just easier in general. But let us tell you a little bit about our trip to Copenhagen, our very first trip.

Jim  

Our Copenhagen trip. And back then, it’s probably not the same now, but you can climb on the bus, like I said, right after work with your bags packed for you or stored for you. And they sold beer or drinks on the bus. So you could buy beer or soda, of course, or juices, things like that if you had kids, but we were both in our 20s like I was saying, and out on the loose in Europe. And at that time, the beers were super cheap, I think was the German mark. At that point. It was a mark 50 exchange rate that was hugely in our favor. So I think that came out to about 50 cents for a beer.

Corinne  

I would say 50 to 75 cents.

Jim  

So we spent all the change that we had all the marks that we had drinking beer on the bus from about four o’clock in the afternoon until the first real stop was a rest stop near the border, or just over, not near the border. And we were starving by this point and a little bit drunk. I would say would you say?

Corinne  

Tipsy.

Jim  

Tipsy okay. But needing to eat for sure and needing to go to the bathroom. So off the bus, we climbed into this pretty much-deserted rest stop on the side of the autobahn and looked for food. So of course we dig in our pockets. This is long before Apple Pay or credit cards were accepted everywhere. Dug in our pockets to see what remaining change we had. 

And I think we had what we figured we could scrape together was about one Deutschmark, which would buy us one sausage, sausage on a bun with some mustard. Okay, that’s all we had. So that’s what we were going to eat. And now, of course, we’re not dating at this point. 

No, it’s definitely having the shared experience of being on the bus and drinking the beers and whatnot. So we felt comfortable enough sharing one wurst one night quite frankly. But the problem was they didn’t put the mustard on for you. 

They gave you a packet of mustard. So here we are. I’m well actually this is we didn’t even really get to the wurst at this point. Now we went to pay and we had a jumble handful of mixed coins that we thought came up to one Mark…

Corinne  

…because long before the Euro each country had its own money. So I had a little French and I had a little German. And guess what? Not enough to pay for the sausage.

Jim  

One of those coins I think we thought was at 50 pfennig was actually one French Franc.

Corinne  

Yeah, some 50 centimes in France. Yeah.

Jim  

We hold it out to the guy to give him the money. And he says no, no, no, no. Bla bla bla, something in German. Neither one of us had a strong grasp of the language at that point. But we knew that there was a problem.

Corinne  

It didn’t really matter though. And we were so young and so starving, we must have been quite the picture. And the man behind us who I’m not even sure what is his, what country he was from. He was, definitely not American. No. And anyway, he threw the money at us and said Get your sausage and go…

Jim  

…Get out of my way. So okay, so we get it, finally get the sausage and we’re very excited. But, I’m kind of fumbling around with the mustard packet and trying to, for some reason, balance the wurst at the same time, and fumble, fumble, fumble. Plop goes the wurst.

Corinne  

On to the floor, now remember, this is February, in northern Germany. And it was muddy and yucky. The floor was just a mess.

Jim  

Yeah, but it was in Germany and they do a really good job of keeping things clean in Germany. But anyway, we look at each other and… for half a second…and we both reached down real quick, scooped that thing up, put it back on the bun with a little bit of a wipe, and down it goes. Yeah, so anyway, they didn’t give you a lot of choices on where you’re going to eat. 

Luckily, once we got into Denmark, of course, we had Danish kroner with us, we were ready for that. I believe some of the meals were included in the tour like breakfast was included. So you didn’t have to worry about that. One of the meals was included. And that was our first experience of a true smorgasbord. 

A Danish smorgasbord, which, in my mind, a smorgasbord was like a golden buffet or one of those all-you-can-eat type things. It is all you can eat. But it’s nothing like an American smorgasbord, where you have all the different options in the hot plates and spaghetti here or carved ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, all that good stuff, right? This was fish, fish, fish, and shellfish. 

Give me some more fish. So being the not too adventurous eaters. That was kind of one of mine, at least one of my first experiences of well, this is what you have to eat. It’s time to start exploring and become adventurous. And I think that’s how everybody’s travel progression with food kind of evolves. And it has to.

Jim  

And we had fun in Copenhagen. Well, we’ll talk about Copenhagen in another podcast, because we’ve been back many times since that first fateful night, that brought us together. But um, yeah, we’ll talk about that at another time. But we just wanted to let you know that our first sort of circle outside of our hometown where we were living in Germany was to take a bus trip.

Corinne  

Bus tours were and I think that’s a really easy way to travel…for most people.

Corinne  

It’s a great option. I mean, nowadays, you can do the same thing. I guess they had cruises back then too, but we couldn’t afford them. But you know, on a cruise ship or a two-week tour, you can do all kinds of things that you don’t have to do the planning for. So that was what we did, too.

Jim  

And eventually, one thing we would do is, after we’d been to a city on the bus, we would be more familiar with it. And we realized, you know, we don’t need the bus tour. We don’t need these people to set everything up for us. We have a car, and we can drive.

Corinne  

Okay, so so we decided that we can do a road trip on our own and that we could handle it. The first road trip we took one of the first road trips we took was not too far from home, it was still in Germany. 

And we went down to Bavaria, where we later ended up living in Bavaria, which is fantastic. But at this time, we hadn’t been there yet. And we wanted to go to Munich, and we wanted to go see the fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein.

So he set up a little route that we wanted to take now. It’s our first sort of road trip on our own. We were in the military, we say that military hotels, we were living in Germany, we pretty much ate at regular German restaurants anywhere. 

And we’d still order pretty much the same thing. You know, Jaeger schnitzel, and promise which are we like we knew we knew we liked it. It was schnitzel with a mushroom sauce over usually served with French fries. And every American loves it. It’s just delicious. And we must have ordered that. Yeah. Oh, gosh. 200 times, because you could get it anywhere.

Jim  

You could just get it anywhere. And by this point, we’re married. And we have a baby. So we have to be ready for that. Which of course for traveling means a whole other set of things you have to do to be able to travel.

Corinne  

Right, you need your baby stuff. Kid travel. Here we go. What happened to us? One of my favorite stories.

Jim  

So one of the things we do we did with Devon was wanted to take her to the zoo. Let’s see animals even though she was an infant and wouldn’t recognize anything, let alone remember anything. It was still a fun way to get out. So we’ve got the stroller and we’ve got the baby bag. 

And of course, we’re also we’re both I’ve always been very big into photography. So we’ve got all of our camera gear. And back then there were no smartphones. So it was maps and guidebooks. And, of course, you know, with this stroller, we’ve only got a little bit of carrying capacity. 

So we’ve got this little red bag, a little handbag that we keep some diapers in, and a bottle of formula. And the map and this better lens that’s not on the camera body, which happened to be a telephoto at that time, nice big long zoom telephoto, heavy, heavy. And we tour the zoo and had a good time. 

On our way out Devon needs a diaper change in the car. So we do that in the back of the car and load up the stroller and head on back to our hotel, which is a good hour away. Well, you know, at this time, this is like the height of the Cold War, the early 80s. And not only Cold War, but a lot of tension in Germany with different radical groups and bombings and bomb threats at different military and political places, government places. 

Well, we get to our hotel, which was on a military base, and it’s in lockdown. And so we’re looking at the guards, and he’s looking at us like, Where have you been? Who are you? Why are you here? We had our ID cards and everything. So there’s no reason why it should have been a problem. But then we get in and we find out that there was a what they thought was a terrorist threat at the Munich zoo.

Corinne  

And we just looked at each other and asked more questions. Oh my gosh, can you believe this? Someone, meaning us, left their baby bag with bottles with formula in it? And a telephoto lens? And what else do we have a guide?

Jim  

A book with things circled on it?

Corinne  

Yeah, we caused the military lockdown because we left our baby bag, so we had to sort of own up to it. And we actually got a baby bag back, which was great. The rest of the stuff didn’t matter. But my telephoto lens is pretty expensive for us. And so we were surprised but happy, And we sort of chuckled to ourselves and looked repentant. And went to our room.

Jim  

Yeah. And, you know, speaking of our evolution of travel, well, of course, you learn a few things from that. Don’t leave your things unattended. But you know, we were becoming more comfortable driving ourselves to places and finding our own restaurants, still kind of having that insulating effect of military bases and whatnot. But just kind of feeling our legs and getting out more.

Corinne  

So that takes us to our next trip. Here we are, we’re ready to go to a different country on a road trip, we’re going to take our car, we’re going to drive it ourselves. We’re going to go to the tourist sites and the restaurants and shopping and whatever else we’re gonna do all on our end, we’re not just any tourists anymore. 

And while we were traveling with friends, a German couple, and they helped a little bit. But we went to Czechoslovakia. And yes, that’s how old we are. It was Czechoslovakia back then. Their borders had just started opening up that was the end of the 80s. And they hadn’t gone through their revolution yet where they split from the Soviet Union completely, but the borders began opening up.

We were able to cross the border between Germany and Czechoslovakia. But we didn’t really stay there too long. We’d go in for short forays and then come straight back out again. And it was quite dull, not culture-wise, just decor-wise. It was so drab.

Jim  

like a slightly colored black and white film.

Corinne  

Yeah, every time we did it. And we were completely I mean, talk about being put out of your comfort zone. It was different it was completely something we weren’t used to. Well, hardly anyone spoke English at that time. There weren’t even a whole lot of restaurants or anything to choose from because it’s just not something they did. Yeah. 

But we did find a few things. So we had a great time going on the Charles Bridge bridge in Prague for the very first time before the country even split up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. That’s pretty impressive, but we found this little coffee place. 

Jim  

And now we’re going to tell you one of the most embarrassing stories of our lives that can get much, much more embarrassing than picking up the sausage off the ground and eating it. Oh, yeah. Well, we’ve had a few. What can I say? 

But anyway, so so in this cafe in Czechoslovakia, we had really just stopped in for a quick snack. Get I think we needed to get a drink for one of the kids. And a coffee, you know, we’re driving want to stay awake. So our friend Ruediger orders us some coffee and says, “I’ve got just the thing.” 

“This is the best coffee you’re gonna love it.”

So he gets us some coffees and hands went to me and it comes in a little plastic like a little plastic Pixie cup, right? Not very big, super hot, no real way to hold it. Because it’s plastic, small plastic cup. Black, no options for sugar or cream or anything. And I sip it. And it’s basically mud, coffee, mud? 

Well, that’s what I thought. Now I know differently. But my first reaction was to for some reason, and I have this on video of all things. VHS is to hold up the cup and yell it at grant across the room. You would not believe this coffee? Oh my god, it’s full of the grounds. They didn’t even take the grounds out yet. Well, you know, once you’ve been around the world, and you’ve been to a few different places and seen coffee made multiple ways, I believe is more like a Turkish coffee.

Corinne  

And it was probably not bad at all. But we were young and stupid and used to our coffee coming out a lot less strong. We yelled we were loud the last time we were talking about this coffee, Which, okay, we didn’t care for it. But even if you don’t care for something, and you’re in a foreign country, it’s probably not a good idea to ridicule it. As you’re still there, wait to leave, go back to your hotel room or something. We did a lot of things wrong. We feel we feel pretty bad about it.

Jim  

I did drink the coffee. So you know other than actually experiencing a new thing and trying it was kind of a travel fail, I would say on our parts. The rest of the trip I think went really well. We did learn that when you don’t have access to a good guidebook or the Internet, and you’re trying to find good food, a good restaurant. some tricks for that, you know, look for places that are busy. 

Corinne  

Of course, we’re going to tell you in our next episode, so we won’t talk too much about that. So here we are. We ventured out. We did another country for the weekend, a long weekend. And it was maybe not the most successful weekend we ever had. But it was different. It was fun. And it just fueled our fire for more. So, summer’s coming up. 

We decided to go camping in multi countries. We went from Germany, through northern Italy to France, and down into the Costa del Sol in Spain, and then back up again. Did we spend a night in Switzerland we may have spent a night in Switzerland? I’m not even sure. But we hit multiple countries. We camped the entire way. I don’t think we stayed in any hotel. No, we did stay in one hotel in Italy.

Jim  

We couldn’t find a camping spot. So we went into town and they had one room. I don’t know why it was so busy. Just summertime, I guess. But we got a room to share for us and your sister. Ernestine was with us. And Devon, of course, was still a baby at that point. And I remember we watched her in the sink and we set up a bed for her we’re traveling without it a real bed for the baby. I guess they didn’t really have those things back then. You know, we pulled out a drawer from the dresser and we made a little bed in the drawer.

Corinne  

Along the way, we can’t so the food story that goes along with this is there’s a couple of them really. One of them was in this campground in France and we’ve gone to the market and in the market, we saw these beautiful lobsters. Of course, you know lobster wasn’t cheap back then either. 

But we decided to buy one and we’d haven’t for dinner that night. Well as I’m cooking this lobster on a camp stove, Coleman stove, or Coleman stove. We ended up with an audience of probably 30 people from the campground and everybody was just sort of open mouth a gape at watching this in France prep this meal at this campground and the stash lady I remember she was sort of she wasn’t shy so she was sort of the Speaker of the group. 

She says, What are you doing? I said, Well, I’m making dinner. And she says, What is that? And I said, Well, I don’t know what it’s called here. But if you know it’s lobster, so we’re just gonna boil it up and we’re gonna eat it. Oh. So what happened? I even offered them a taste and only the Dutch woman tried it. And it was just funny because she liked it. She loved it. Yeah. Delicious lobster with butter. After they tried it. They were all like, okay, we could leave now. But it was

Jim  

a very interesting little. They were just watching us. And we both are good campers. We’re not a camp. At that point. I don’t think we could say we were good cooks. But we weren’t too bad. We can boil a lobster. We could boil water, throw a lobster and alive, which I think they were really, maybe that was part of the problem either. Now, I was very interested by not bothered but just amazed. They were amazed at us. Yeah, it was fun. It was fun.

Corinne  

So we basically hit a bunch of beaches, we were on the coat, desorbed frames, and down a nice and on the Mediterranean coast. Then we went to Spain.

Jim  

Down to Grenada, right?

Corinne  

Yeah. Yeah, we were all over the place. 

Jim  

So from Grenada, we went inland and started coming up towards Madrid and a different experience travel-wise, once you get off the coast, not nearly as many tourists. I think that’s still true today, but certainly more now than there was then. But the same old thing, trying to find food along the way and needing to get food for our camping. 

So spending a lot more time in grocery stores than we would have. And we didn’t really know anything about Spanish. Yeah, at that point. We didn’t have the internet. No. I don’t even know if we had a guidebook for that trip. I’m sure we did we mess. 

Well, we had this really good camping book that covered all of the campgrounds in Europe, with like these icons and symbols to tell you about each one. Whether they have showers, where they have bathrooms, or do they have boating and swimming, it wasn’t for restaurants. 

It’s just not for restaurants just for campgrounds. And there were guidebooks but we didn’t have one. So we happened to go into this one grocery store to pick up some supplies. And in the parking lot, they’ve got this huge canopy setup. And there are people inside or behind a counter in there cooking something. 

And of course, there are people lined up at his table set up to eat, and just looks like a real festive atmosphere for a grocery store parking lot. Well, so we get out of the car, and we go investigate. And they’ve got this gigantic frying pan over sitting on a gas burner. And they’re cooking up the largest pan of pya that we’ve ever seen even since then. And now is our first experience with paella an I mean, we knew I think by that point, we knew what paella it was. I don’t think we’d had it. So it was definitely something we wanted to have while we were in Spain.

Corinne  

And I think we had a good, good pan of it. It was delicious. But we were just starting really to find out that we’d like to try the local foods rather than just looking for the pizza that was available right? Jaeger schnitzel.

Jim  

And that brings us to that evolved into not just a road trip, but flying to a new place so that we could save some of that driving time flying to a new country or new city and renting your car and driving ourselves in the countries. 

So for instance, one of the times we did that was flying into Sofia, Bulgaria, where we rented a car we drove all over the country, like all over the country in which driving in some countries, even though it’s Europe, you would think isn’t really that hard. 

We’ve driven in one country and have driven all of them. But it can be a challenge. languages are different, whether they’re going to have English on the road signs or not. You have to be prepared for that. And in Bulgaria, there was all Cyrillic is that the word Cyrillic. So really the first experience with that kind of driving. I think at this point, we’re getting pretty adventurous.

Corinne  

Well, this is years later to have evolved. That’s the whole point of this podcast was we’ve been involved. Exactly. So

Jim  

yeah, so really kind of a not a spontaneous trip in that we had to plan to get there and have a rental car ready for us when we got there. I’m sure you could get one at the airport at the airport, although that’s not always true. So we had that much planned. We knew we were going to stay in this kind of turned into.

Corinne  

We knew our stops, but we didn’t have hotels,

Jim  

well, we knew we were gonna stay the first night, which is something that we had learned. And we still do something we do. Yeah, that’s still something whenever you’re flying into a new country or a new city, you want to know where you’re staying that first night, and maybe even the night before you leave the country. I’m better than that. Try to keep it as open as you can. Just to make it more spontaneous, more adventurous. 

So that’s what we did in Sofia, in Bulgaria, we rented a car, we drove all over the country, we didn’t really plan hotels or restaurants. We relied more on what locals would tell us and get recommendations from either the clerk in the hotel or you know, when you go into the restaurant, asking the waiter what their favorite thing on the menu is, and going with that. But when you do that, of course, you really become more open to adventure with food. If you ask them what you should get on the menu, you got to be ready to take it. 

Corinne  

I mean, sometimes you have to ask it the right way too. Because there’s often something that’s pretty low key something that’s generic. Like, one thing we noticed in Eastern Europe a lot was you could give a schnitzel, well, just because schnitzel was what people knew was a European dish. 

They would offer that but it wasn’t really one of their dishes. But here we are. We’re down in southern Bulgaria. And in this little town called Melnick with a beautiful monastery that we had visited there. And the city itself was just really cute as well. We’re staying in a guest house. And the person who was in the guesthouse told us to go down to this particular restaurant. 

So we got to this restaurant. And we’re the only people in the restaurant. The hotelier or restaurant, who was in who was cook, he did everything he cooked. He made a barman, he, you know, he did it all. And he was quite the personality. We learned a lot from him. We basically went in there and said, Give us a couple of beers. And you decide for us? 

Well, we don’t really know what’s on the menu. Read it. It didn’t mean anything to us, just feed us, which we’ve done many times in the past actually. And it’s almost always worked out. So the first thing he brings out for us we weren’t sure how to take this was “zelini spookini.” He was very proud of it. We kept saying it over and over. It turned out to be something that you could find anywhere in Bulgaria and that is a sheep’s yogurt. In this case, figs, which were quite delicious. 

It was so delicious that when we knew what they were, later on, we stopped at one of those stands on the side of the road where two ladies in there to babushkas in their scarves, and there was a fire burning on top of it. So in our local jams, we knew what to get. So we got our figs from them. That was pretty cool. But the whole meal was quite memorable because basically, we sort of, you know, threw caution to the wind and said, feed us what you will and we had and not only did we have an amazing dinner.

Jim  

And the guy just entertained us the entire day super excited to be showing us these dishes and notice none of us spoke we didn’t speak a common language really no but yet somehow with gestures and you find some words in other languages that you do understand German or Italian and you may communicate you make it work. 

Yeah and but then sometimes you walk in and it’s a completely different story. One night we wanted to go get a drink after dinner and after walking around the town for a while. I forget the name of that seeing all the sights. 

This was another Bulgarian town where there was the in the town center the old town had been a Roman village at one point time and they had very cleverly I think excavated the ruins but then left them still available for viewing like through plexiglass sheets on the ground open areas plugged if that closed if that’s right. So anyway, we’re looking for a place to get a drink and most of the town was kind of closing down I think that we walked by what looked like a really nice kind of local. 

It seemed at least somewhat inviting for tourists in an old stone building bar.The door was open. So when we walk in, there’s only one person in there standing by the bar. We assume he’s the bartender. We still don’t know to this day if he really was the bartender. He had on the counter next to him a very large duffel bag that was filled with something we don’t know what but just sitting there.

And when we walked in, he kind of looked up with a little bit of guilt, and but then quickly shifted into a routine of “Yes, come in, come in.” He spoke good English. He lived in England for a while, until he was kicked out of the convent where he was a cook, which he told us it didn’t tell us why he was kicked out, I don’t think. 

But anyway, he was very friendly, and entertaining. He wanted us to try some of the local drinks. He had a plastic bottle, like an old water bottle that was filled with rakia, some local distilled drink, that you could pretty much find anywhere in Bulgaria. He gave us try after try, and lots of sips of that he wanted us to try the local tequila, as well as all kinds of stuff. I don’t think we even ever did get a beer. 

But eventually, we realized that something was happening here, something was amiss. And he was actually getting to the point where he was getting a little furtive, trying to get us to leave. So we just left, we never really did find out what the story there was. But he never charged us for anything. 

Corinne  

It was crazy. It was an odd experience.

Jim  

But fun, still interesting and fun. And luckily, it didn’t turn into anything bad. And I think that our safety radars were kind of going off the whole time. And we realized we probably needed to get out of there too. So and these are the things you kind of pick up as you travel.

Corinne  

So that’s kind of where we still are today. We like to travel pretty loosely, we do a little bit more planning sometimes and less planning. Other times, it really just depends. But we definitely want to look for the local food. And we definitely want to see not only the top sites in the country, which are important in the world heritage sites, which are important, but we want to experience the culture and we want to just have a lot of fun while we’re doing it. So I think that’s still kind of where we are today. 

Jim  

It really is all about sharing those ideas with you with the audience and giving you ideas, of how to travel, maybe out of your comfort zone a little bit, and kind of keep pushing that boundary.

Corinne  

So basically, our entire podcast, he would not just episode wine is going to be about our travel evolution and the things that we’ve learned. Because I do believe travels in education, things that we’ve experienced, find that we’ve had. And, you know, we’re just gonna pass it on to you. And hopefully, you can get out there and do some now that the world is, is sort of opening up again.

Jim  

Yeah, and we’ve shared some of our older stories. And of course, you know, what we did in Copenhagen in 1982, or 83 may not be as relevant today. But some of that advice is, and of course, we’ve been back to Copenhagen and we’ve never stopped traveling. The only thing that has stopped us from traveling in the last year is the same thing that stuck out to everybody that’s done and gone beyond we’ve got our vaccines and we are ready to get out there again and share all of that information with you.

Corinne  

So thanks for joining us at streets of eats where we want to encourage you to savor the adventure. Please remember to hit the subscribe button and tell all your friends about us. Ciao for now.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai