State Fair… time to eat!

A day in mostly pictures.

Glad we bought tickets online!
Glad we bought tickets online!
Breakfast. Maple Bacon roll (for Katie), Blueberry Corn bread Muffin (for me), and a nitro cold press coffee (me also).
Breakfast. Maple Bacon roll (for Katie), Blueberry Corn bread Muffin (for me), and a nitro cold press coffee (me also).
Tatchos. The fair has finally caught on to this deliciousness.
Tatchos. The fair has finally caught on to this deliciousness.
The largest pig. Pretty massive.
The largest pig. Pretty massive.
Siracha Sliders. I just ignored the bun on this one.
Siracha Sliders. I just ignored the bun on this one.
Cheese curds for Katie.
Cheese curds for Katie.
Salted Caramel Puff Sundae. Not enough puffs.
Salted Caramel Puff Sundae. Not enough puffs.
Butter Queen Coffee Ice Cream. Yum.
Butter Queen Coffee Ice Cream. Yum.
Cider! (hopefully this shows up right-side up, I'm fighting with it)
Cider! 
Mr Goat was bored and trying to munch on the banner.
Mr Goat was bored and trying to munch on the banner.

On day two of my visit, I forgot to take a picture of my food… But it started with a gluten free beer batter brat. Very tasty.

Beer and Wine Samplers. Don't drink MN white wine. Too sweet.
Beer and Wine Samplers. Don’t drink MN white wine. Too sweet.
Had to take a trip down the giant slide with some of the newbies.
Had to take a trip down the giant slide with some of the newbies.

That was my days at the fair. Always a blast. I always come home too full.

 

Day 25 – Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Dutch Dinner

I started my day off heading to the Rijksmuseum (which is pronounced rykes museum, not sure what the ij combo into a y thing is). This is a large museum that has what seems like a little bit of everything. One of the main attractions is that it has Rembrandt’s Night Watch. I decided to head up there right away, in the hope of there being less people.

DSCN5491

This painting was pretty well guarded. Not surprising. This main gallery had a lot of the more famous Dutch artists and therefore ended up being rather full, rather quickly. If you know me, crowds aren’t my favorite thing, so I was happy to be there fast and then move on to the other areas which were much less crowded.  Over all I really enjoyed this museum.

Your cannon isn't very intimidating with this on the end.
Your cannon isn’t very intimidating with this on the end.

It turned out that I enjoyed it enough, that it took me way more hours to wander around than I ever thought possible. When I got out, I had intended to head over to the Van Gogh Museum, but there was simply no hope of spending any more time in a crowded museum.

So instead, I headed over to the Anne Frank House. Less of a museum right? But really, it was less crowded. The Anne Frank House is one place where you can’t buy tickets from any of the ticket locations in the city. Your two options are to buy them online, WAY ahead of time, or to stand in line and buy them at the museum. I was going with the line option. Luckily, it was a shorter line than a lot of days, and only took an hour and a half I believe. Met some nice girls in line that were doing a Europe tour at a super fast pace!

The museum was great to see, but super horrible at the same time. If you get to Amsterdam, it’s a must see.

After this day, I decided I should have some real food for dinner, and went to a place that was suggested by my hostel front desk man as a place for good traditional dutch food. Surprisingly, they’re not so easy to come by now that the city is such a mixing pot. A lot of the better food and more popular places are actually the immigrant food styles.

Dinner

Started off with cider and some herring. Yes, I know, strongbow is not dutch.

They serve herring with onions and salt. It is served raw and I was super apprehensive about it (not the raw bit, just the fish in general). Turns out that I actually really enjoyed it! I followed this up with Stamppotten, which is a meatball on top of mashed potatoes with some sort of veggie mixed in. The traditional version is with carrots, so that’s what I went with. I guess I could be Dutch because this was pretty much right up my food alley. Nothing to complain about. This was also the first place I’ve been that had a gluten free menu, but more exciting, gluten free bread. This area is so big on bread that I’ve actually been missing it.

Days 14, 15, and 16 – Island, Fortress, Ferry

Day 14

I started the day off up bright and early. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to wander around places without very many other people, and the Akershus Fortress opened at 06:00 (No, I wasn’t there at that time, more like 08:00). So off I went. It really was empty! Of course, there’s always guards on duty, as it is a national fortress and castle, and I didn’t realize this until I turn around and see one standing back in the trees. They patrol around, so they can appear in places you were looking earlier and no one was there. Scared the shit out of me! They carry big guns too.

Anyways, gave some timer selfies a try. Most looked horrible, half shadows doesn’t do well for my camera at all.

DSCN5354color

The fortress was interesting to wander around, but there’s not much in the way of information. I found it amusing to look up the side of the castle (which was closed on this day) and see the many different building materials.

It's easy to see 3 different types of stone here.
It’s easy to see 3 different types of stone here.

After this, I decided to check out one of the islands in the Oslo bay area. I went with Hovedøya, the one that the past day had the most people in line, and the sign with a two sentence description said it was a good recreation and beach area.

There was also a monastery ruin, which is part of where some of the different stones for the fortress came from.

Just free to wander around as you please
Just free to wander around as you please

Going over a hill on the path to the beach and I heard some weird noise, get to the top and see these lovelies staring back at me.

 

Apparently used for mowing that area
Apparently used for mowing that area

I wasn’t properly prepared though. Everyone else that went over was ready with lunch/snacks and beach gear. People were carrying foam mats, which made more sense when I saw that they would simply lay on the hard rocks. I grabbed a bench and did a little reading before ending up hungry and heading back. I took the ferry that made stops at some of the other islands, just to get a mini sight seeing trip out of it.

After grabbing lunch, I did a bit of shopping. I had a mission when I went to Norway to come home with some Comfy Balls Boxers, and so needed to find those. I heard of them through the Norwegian Curling Team, Team Ulsrud. They did a hilarious commercial for them, which I have to link even though I’m sure no one else will find it as funny as I did. Anyways, mission accomplished. No other shopping needed here where everything is so expensive.

My next task was finding some food for dinner and for my next days lunch, as I planned to go back to the beach, this time better prepared (including sunscreen). Grocery shopping in a country that speaks a different language will never be a simple task. Perhaps it would be less difficult if I wouldn’t end up sick if I ate the wrong things. So far, meat, cheese and crackers have been my go-to snack, once I found GF crackers.

Day 15

Pretty much the same activities as yesterday, just in the reverse order. That and the castle at the fortress was to be open, so I went back. I will never understand why displays which contain chronological information are presented out of order. Makes it rather difficult to follow. Oh well.

Turns out this castle ran into the same problem as most castles/churches/towns and burned down a few times. That’s part of the reason for the many materials. The other is that it went through many different uses over time and fixes/improvements were done and no one bothered to care what they were using to build the walls so long as they stood.

This is the fortress where Norway was overtaken by the Nazis in 1940 at the beginning of the German Occupation of Norway. Luckily, they managed to sink a ship which held off the Germans long enough to allow the King to escape.

Castle Pictures:

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Beach pictures:

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Then I went back to my hostel, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the boat I was taking to Copenhagen.

The boat was like a mini-cruise ship. I did some laundry quickly, grabbed dinner, wandered around, watched the scenery, and then was bored. So I went off to grab a drink. I ended up running into some ladies that were heading to Copenhagen for the day as a girls night/weekend trip. I ended up spending the rest of my evening with them, which was quite fun! The Thursday night trip must not be the party trip though, because pretty much all the bars and club were empty, and there was a lot of them.

Day 16

Off the boat with my clothes that apparently do not all dry in 12 hours (sad). The ferry terminal in Copenhagen is not quite in the city. They provide a bus that brings you to the city center, which being that my hostel was by the train station, I figured was good enough. Well, at least I got a lot of walking in. It’s always tough to find your way around a new city. Usually it takes me a couple times walking around, then I’ve totally got it, but that’s never when you’re also carrying all your things.

So I dropped my stuff off at my hostel (too early for check-in) and headed to the tourist information, then the store to grab lunch, and then to a park to grab a spot in the shade.

This is where I learn how to get around the city. After lunch I spent some time looking through the materials I picked up and at the map and planned all the things I wanted to see, and came up with a plan of attack.

After everything was all decided, I headed back to the hostel and got settled. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to just do nothing at the hostel, so I decided to check out Nyhavn (pronounced like na-haown, I’ll never really figure it out though). It was packed as it was happy hour/dinner time on a Friday, so I grabbed some ice cream (yes, for dinner) and grabbed a seat on the side of the canal to watch the world go by.

IMG_3285kobenhavn

This happens to be where the most commonly seen picture of Copenhagen was taken. Looks just like it too.

I gave up after not too long and hopped the bus back home. I am learning that two showers a day will probably be the norm for me this trip, especially if it’s going to stay in the 30’s (90’s for us Americans – I had to learn Celsius or I sound crazy).


Day 14

Steps: 22,875

Floors: 35

Day 15

Steps: 20,260

Floors: 87 (lots of stairs on that ferry boat!)

Day 16

Steps: 18,485

Floors: 23

 

Packing for my Europe Trip

Let me start by saying this is going to be a long post. There’s lots of fun stuff in here (at least to me, so sorry for everyone else who doesn’t think packing is fun). I’m heading to Europe in 3 days, and I’ll be gone for 66 days. My itinerary was detailed previously here.

I decided I should pack a couple days before I leave, to make sure everything actually fits. I’m a very classic “well, maybe I need this” type packer. Usually this isn’t a problem because I’m packing in a carry on for a weekend. This time, I’m packing in a carry on for 2 months. This is something I’ve never done before.

To get started, I read lots and lots of blogs that I found from pinterest. I’m wishing now that I’d actually pinned a couple of them along the way instead of just looking so I could direct you to much better lists than mine. When I was reading, I thought people were crazy for being able to pack in 30L bags; now that I’m done, I realize if I wasn’t diabetic, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Everything

I’m using an Ospry Porter 46 as my main bag. My coworker offered to loan me one, and once I saw it, I knew I had to have one. The upside is the newer bag I bought (2015 version) has an awesome space for laptops and other small bits in the front that previous versions were missing. It took me many many stores to find someone that had this bag in stock, so I’m sure I’ll see many other on my trip.

My shoulder bag/purse is a North Face bag that I found at Marshalls. I saw it and was in love. No idea what it is any more. I’ve been using this as my purse for the past couple months at home and am pretty sure it will serve me well on my trip. The purple insulin cooling thing will be going into my carry on (it functions best with air circulation).

Now on to what I’ve managed to fit into these bags. It will be interesting to see what I come back with in comparison to what I’m packing now, so I want to be sure to document what I’ve packed.

Let’s start with the easy things. This is my travel outfit. Going with the “wear your largest items” idea.

Travel Clothes

  • Sweatshirt (An oldie but goodie, won’t be too sad if it goes missing)
  • Maxi dress
  • Scarf (it’s solid grey on the reverse side)
  • Tennis Shoes (I hope to run while I’m gone and was told by enough people I need to bring them for walking around, we will see about that as I go)
  • A set of underthings

Purse

Lots of good things in this bag. I wanted to call it a carry-on, but everything is a carry on this trip. Some things have numbers, the others are too obvious to need them. Roughly listed left to right, top to bottom.

  • Book (From a little free library near me, to be returned to one abroad. Or some other book exchange.)
  • Headphones (yes, they are giant. I figure worth it for good sound and noise cancelling-ish.)
  • The small bag packed previously with back up diabetes supplies (1)
  • Meter with extra lancets (2)
  • Lip Balm (3)
  • Padlock (3) (I’m also locking my bag, but that’s too flimsy for a communal locker space)
  • Honey Stinger (3) (delicious fast acting sugar that’s easy to carry)
  • Mini Moleskin books (4) (for on the go notes, handing things to people, etc.)
  • Camera
  • Wallet (this one isn’t coming with me, but one will be)
  • Moleskin journal (with pre-trip notes, also intended to be used as a trip journal)
  • Item 5
    • Pens
    • Eyeliner
    • Mascara (those two items are it for make-up for me)
    • Mini mag light flashlight (I’ve heard I’ll need this, it’s small so I may as well bring it)
    • Body Glide (never know when you’ll need it, nice to have on hand)
  • A small coin purse (6) (I use this for money in places that use a lot of coins – pretty much everywhere but the US).
  • A shopping bag (7)
  • Baby wipes (8) (Good for showers without a shower, cleaning up messes… lots of things)
  • Sun Glasses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Travel Wallet
    • Passport
    • EuRail Pass
    • Hostel International Membership Card

This makes for a pretty full bag, but that’s okay.

Now moving on to the main bag. This is what’s in the outside pockets, one at the top and the front pockets.

Outer Pockets

Left Picture:

  • Swim Suit (1) (packed on the outside because stop number one is the Blue Lagoon)
  • Computer (2) (a light ultra book)
  • Empty Envelopes (3) (to keep all the things I want to keep from places I visit)
  • Grid it organizer (4)
    • Fitbit charger
    • Travel power charger and travel power thingy
    • iPhone charger cable
    • Camera charger
    • Wall connector (this one is from Apple, with changeable connectors that I’ve had for a while. Everything uses USB power, so I’m only bringing this one wall charger)
    • Computer charger
    • Plug converter (you can’t see this because it’s grey, it’s only for my computer charger)
  • Printed prescriptions (5)
  • Printed copies of the celiac cards I talked about here (6)
  • My toiletry bag (7)
  • Randoms (8)
    • Deoderant
    • Comb
    • Pepto container (with pepto and ibuprofen inside)
    • Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
    • Stick sunscreen

And on the right is the contents of the toiletry bag (a small sea to summit bag).

  • Bandaids of many sizes (1)
  • Q-tips (2)
  • Mirror and rubber band (2) (rubber band for using the hanging hook with things that are too-big for it to fit on – which is almost every thing)
  • Nail things and razor (3)
  • Moleskin (4) (can you tell I’m worried about blisters?)
  • Antiperspirant (5)
  • Other Drugs (6)
    • Decongestant
    • Antihistamine
    • Imodium
    • (All things I hope to not need)
  • Shampoo and Conditioner (7)
  • Bag and Ziploc for liquids and TSA (8)
  • Other liquids (9) (All GoToobs – can someone explain why the orange one is bigger than the rest when they say the same size?)
    • Face lotion (orange)
    • Face wash (clear)
    • All purpose soap (green) (for laundry)

And finally, what I’ve got in the main part of the bag. Most things are packed inside packing cubes, but there are a few pockets on the inside of the bag as well.

Main Pocket

  • Blue ebags – previously packed diabetes supplies
  • Shoes:
    • Flip flops for showers
    • Black Toms
    • Birkenstock Sandals
  • Rain Jacket (1)
  • Travel Towel (1)
  • PJs (2) (consisting mainly of work out clothes for quick drying)
  • Sink Stopper (3)
  • Elastic clothes line (3)
  • Flip Belt (4) (for running and perhaps hiding things under my clothes)
  • Pink Medium ebag packing cube (I thought I would be using multiple of these, oh was I wrong)
    • 1 pair jeans
    • 1 pair leggings
    • 1 pair shorts
    • 1 knee length black skirt
    • 1 black tank dress
    • 1 bright pink tank dress (need to have something other than black!)
    • Extra bra
  • Grey small packing cubes
    • A
      • 8 underwear (wayyyyy too many to most light packing people, I know)
      • 4 pairs socks (also probably too many, but most are cotton and will be slow to dry)
      • Work out clothes
        • 1 t-shirt
        • 1 pair capris
        • 1 sports bra
        • 1 headband
    • B
      • 2 tank tops (1 cotton, 1 tech fabric)
      • 1 t-shirt (cotton)
      • 1 extra bag for dirty clothes
      • (this bag isn’t full, space for fun things I buy on my trip!)
    • C
      • 2 long sleeves (1 cotton, 1 smartwool)
      • 2 3/4 sleeves (1 cotton, 1 tech fabric)
      • 2 t-shirts (1 cotton, 1 tech fabric)

I’ve got a mix of tech fabrics and cotton because I wasn’t going to buy all new things, and don’t want to look like I’m totally walking around in exercise clothes. We will see what I think about this as I go.

I layered all the things into my bag, and took pictures to show you in case you don’t believe this would all fit in the bag!

PackingEuro2015

Diabetes things took up a lot of space. It will be interesting to me to see if I replace all the things I use on the way with new purchases. I’ve got a couple items in my bag that I don’t intend to keep for the entire trip (they are on the end of life and will get tossed most likely… too used for anyone else to ever want).

I am sure everyone will be able to identify everything I’ve packed pretty quickly and will probably recognize the new items I pick up :).

I’ll toss up links to some of the items I bought specifically for this trip as I determine if I actually like them. No point in sending you to “my favorite item” unless it’s actually my favorite! For things not bought for this trip, chances of me finding a link are probably zero so I hope no one is lusting after them.

Whew! I’m impressed if you made it all the way here!

Traveling with Celiac

I’ve had Celiac for 16 years now. It still hasn’t gotten any easier to explain things about what I can and can’t eat in foreign languages. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that I only speak English (if only I picked up other languages easily).

However, before my trip to Switzerland for curling (which is 5 years ago now, and seems like it was yesterday), my mom found this website. The creator has posted cards explaining what Celiac is and what can and can’t be eaten. This was amazingly useful even when the person I was talking to spoke rather fluent English. I forget how you don’t learn a lot of technical type language when learning a new language.

I’ve yet to need any language which I can’t find on the cards. I usually print off multiple copies as it has gone best when I can give my server a card and not have to worry about getting it back. That way they can bring it back to the kitchen and not be worried about ruining it. This results in awesome food with very little fear of ending up sick.

Gluten Free Dinner with Cider Pairings

Last Monday Katie and I went to Nightingale for a prix fix meal. Let me preface this by saying that Katie used to work at Nightingale. Therefore, she saw this awesome meal coming up and asked me if I wanted to go. (Remember though, no one gives me anything for my opinions, they are all mine.)

Nightingale has been doing meals paired with local breweries for a while now. None of those appeal to me because of that whole, I can’t drink beer thing. Well this one was set to be paired with cider, from my favorite cider brewery. And to top it off, the entire menu was set to be gluten free (something Nightingale already does well with).

That would be Sociable Cider Werks in Northeast Minneapolis. If you’re ever in town, you’ve gotta stop by and check them out. They make craft cider like most breweries make craft beer. It is super different from anything else I’ve had. They pride themselves on using fresh (mostly) local apples. It happens to be that Minnesota is home to the most famous types of apples (does it get better than honeycrisp?).

Menu and quick pictures of our meal
Menu and quick pictures of our meal

We got started with deep fried risotto. So tasty. The rest of the menu pretty much speaks for itself, so I won’t go over what every little thing was.

The habanero cucumber cider was awesome. It was one of those spiced things that really doesn’t hit you until you’ve been sitting there a while. The veggies were my favorite thing of the evening.

I don’t believe I’d ever had pate or chicken liver before, so that was a new experience. It was definitely one of those things that if I didn’t know what it was, it might have gone over better. That being said, I’d eat it again!

This is, I believe, the first ravioli I have had since being gluten intolerant (going on 16 years now). I was rather excited for this experience. I was a little bummed to discover that the pasta didn’t hold up to the broth very well, and ended up falling apart. That is rather common with gluten free things; they just don’t hold up well to moisture on top. Oh well. Flavors were spot on.

The burnout smoked apple cider was the winner of the night. In the announcement bit about each dish and cider we found out that this was the last barrel of this cider. That was very sad to hear because other wise I would definitely be heading up to grab some more. We had to have another glass of that before heading home for the night.

You’ll notice that my plate picture certainly doesn’t look much like halibut. That’s the joy of eating out with Katie sometimes. We got scallops instead, as they ended up being a tad short on fish and we were more than happy to have scallops. Everything on the plate was delicious, but perhaps didn’t quite go together.

I am a fan of goat cheese, and the homemade ricotta was no exception. Creamy and tart all at once. Delicious.

It was so nice to sit down to a meal and not have to ask one single question about what was in the food! I forgot how easy it is to simply eat what is served to you without worry.